Virtual microscopy versus conventional microscopy in Histology – An overview




Microscopy; Learning; Educational measurement.


Histology is the science that studies the microscopic structures of human organs and tissues. For this study to happen efficiently, visualizing the cell and tissue structures, microscopy techniques are used, which may be conventional and/or virtual. Therefore, the objective of this study is to identify in the literature the use of virtual microscopy compared to conventional microscopy in the teaching of histology. This is a narrative literature review, of an explanatory nature, carried out according to a bibliographic survey in the following electronic databases: PubMed, SciELO, LILACS, BVS and Scholar Google. As search strategy, the following Health Science Descriptors (DeCS) were used: "dentistry", "virtual microscopy", "conventional microscopy" and "learning". Twenty-two references were selected for the study, delimited from 2009 to 2022, in Portuguese and English. Based on the literature studied, it became evident that virtual microscopy has several advantages over virtual microscopy, such as ease of interaction between students and teacher, time optimization and the opportunity to review histological slides outside a conventional laboratory. Conventional microscopy enables the student to actively engage through interaction with a physical microscope, and increases the use and longevity of the method. Virtual microscopy has several advantages over conventional microscopy, but both acts together, complementing each other. Thus, it is essential that during histological teaching the two methods are used in order to enhance the learning process of health students.


Alotaibi, O., & ALQahtani, D. (2016). Measuring dental students’ preference: a comparison of light microscopy and virtual microscopy as teaching tools in oral histology and pathology. The Saudi dental journal, 28(4), 169-173.

Caruso, M. C. (2021). Virtual microscopy and other technologies for teaching histology during Covid‐19. Anatomical Sciences Education, 14(1), 19.

Chang, J. Y. F., Lin, T. C., Wang, L. H., Cheng, F. C., & Chiang, C. P. (2021). Comparison of virtual microscopy and real microscopy for learning oral pathology laboratory course among dental students. Journal of Dental Sciences, 16(3), 840-845.

Coleman, R. (2009). Can histology and pathology be taught without microscopes? The advantages and disadvantages of virtual histology. Acta histochemica, 111(1), 1-4.

Faria, J. C. N. D. M., Antunes, A. M., Oliveira, M. L. D., Vigário, A. F., & Sabóia-Morais, S. M. T. D. (2011). O ensino de biologia celular e tecidual na educação a distância por meio do microscópio virtual. Experiências em Ensino de Ciências, 6(3), 63-75.

Fernandes, C. I., Bonan, R. F., Bonan, P. R., Leonel, A. C., Carvalho, E. J., de Castro, J. F., & Perez, D. E. (2018). Dental students’ perceptions and performance in use of conventional and virtual microscopy in oral pathology. Journal of Dental Education, 82(8), 883-890.

Fonseca, F. P., Santos-Silva, A. R., Lopes, M. A., de Almeida, O. P., & Vargas, P. A. (2015). Transition from glass to digital slide microscopy in the teaching of oral pathology in a Brazilian dental school. Medicina Oral, Patología Oral y Cirugía Bucal, 20(1), e17.

Gil, R. L. (2017). Tipos de pesquisa.

Hamilton, P. W., Wang, Y., & McCullough, S. J. (2012). Virtual microscopy and digital pathology in training and education. Apmis, 120(4), 305-315.

Hande, A. H., Lohe, V. K., Chaudhary, M. S., Gawande, M. N., Patil, S. K., & Zade, P. R. (2017). Impact of virtual microscopy with conventional microscopy on student learning in dental histology. Dental research journal, 14(2), 111.

Hussein, I., Raad, M., Safa, R., Jurjus, R. A., & Jurjus, A. (2015). Once upon a microscopic slide: the story of histology. Journal of Cytology & Histology, 6.

Lemos, H. D. (2014). Microscópio virtual aplicado à educação a distância. Revista Cereus, 6(2), 91-a.

Lichnovská, R., Krajčí, D., Erdösová, B., & Krajčí, D. (2015). Our experience with e-learning method of teaching practical histology. Mefanet Journal, 3(2), 48-53.

Merk, M., Knuechel, R., & Perez-Bouza, A. (2010). Web-based virtual microscopy at the RWTH Aachen University: didactic concept, methods and analysis of acceptance by the students. Annals of Anatomy-Anatomischer Anzeiger, 192(6), 383-387.

Mione, S., Valcke, M., & Cornelissen, M. (2013). Evaluation of virtual microscopy in medical histology teaching. Anatomical sciences education, 6(5), 307-315.

Montanari, T., & Borges, E. O. (2012). Museu virtual do corpo humano: ambiente virtual de aprendizagem para o ensino de ciências morfológicas. RENOTE, 10(2).

Santa-Rosa, J. G., & Struchiner, M. (2011). Tecnologia educacional no contexto do ensino de histologia: pesquisa e desenvolvimento de um ambiente virtual de ensino e aprendizagem. Revista Brasileira de Educação Médica, 35, 289-298.

Santos, F. S., Osako, M. K., Perdoná, G. D. S. C., Alves, M. G., & Sales, K. U. (2021). Virtual microscopy as a learning tool in Brazilian medical education. Anatomical Sciences Education, 14(4), 408-416.

Silva, Q. P., Lacerda, M. G. A., Oliveira, A. A., Renôr, R. R. C., Bezerra, R. R. M., Lima, J. F. S., & Monteiro, B. V. B. (2020). Tecnologias da informação e comunicação (TICs) no auxílio do ensino-aprendizagem da Histologia–Revisão de literatura. Research, Society And Development, 9(7), e995975259-e995975259.

Vasconcelos, D. F. P., & Vasconcelos, A. C. C. G. (2013). Desenvolvimento de um ambiente virtual de ensino em histologia para estudantes da saúde. Revista Brasileira de Educação Médica, 37, 132-137.

Waseem, N., Rasheed, A., Gill, M., Asad, A., Shamim, M. O., & Waseem, F. (2021). The attitudes of medical students towards clinical relevance of histology. PAFMJ, 71(1), 351-56.

Wu, Y. H., & Chiang, C. P. (2022). Comparison of virtual microscopy and real microscopy for learning oral histology laboratory course among dental students. Journal of Dental Sciences.



How to Cite

MARINHO, E. G. B. .; GONÇALVES, A. C. R. .; MONTEIRO, B. V. de B. . Virtual microscopy versus conventional microscopy in Histology – An overview . Research, Society and Development, [S. l.], v. 12, n. 4, p. e5612441000, 2023. DOI: 10.33448/rsd-v12i4.41000. Disponível em: Acesso em: 29 may. 2023.



Health Sciences