Choosing a Veterinary Microscope for Your Clinic

Quality microscopes are a worthwhile investment in a veterinary practice’s laboratory investigations and case management. Commonly used for urinalysis, parasitology, microbiology and cytology, veterinary microscopes can be a valuable diagnostic tool for clinics of all sizes. 

Too many veterinary professionals are using old, cheaply made microscope equipment that has not been properly cleaned or maintained. Upgrading your clinic’s microscope equipment is an affordable way to provide thorough, accurate investigations with fast results so you can start treatment faster.

Assessing Your Microscope Needs
Before selecting a new veterinary microscope for your clinic, it’s important to evaluate how you’re planning to use it. 
1.  What type(s) of lab samples will you be viewing? 
If you’ll be using the microscope for cytological work, for instance, you may want to opt for a higher quality model than if you’re only performing parasite screenings. If you’re planning to do both, you may want to purchase a second, less sophisticated model for fecal and heartworm testing as the corrosive materials used in these tests can damage microscopes over time.
2.  How frequently do you plan to use the microscope?
The number of tests you’re running should impact your microscope purchase. If microscopy is part of your everyday diagnostic protocol, consider a sturdy, durable model that can stand up to repeated use.
3.  How many people will be using the microscope and how well-trained are they in using and maintaining it?
Does every veterinary technician in your clinic run microscopy tests? Or do you reserve access to only those who have been specially trained in using the microscope? Historically, veterinary college training on microscopes has been limited, so it’s always a good idea to educate microscope users on how to protect your new equipment.
4.  Would a digital microscope be beneficial?
Advancements in technology have made digital microscopes affordable, even for small veterinary practices. Or you can purchase a digital camera to attach to a standard clinical microscope. Either way, digital microscopy allows you to save images to a patient’s record and easily send them to specialists for further analysis. 

Things to Know About Veterinary Microscopes
Veterinarians should be using a compound microscope for its high magnification settings and high optical resolution. Considerations for vet microscopes include:

•  Head Type: Select based on viewing needs
o Monocular: One tube and one eyepiece 
o Binocular: Two tubes and two eyepieces (often more comfortable for viewing)
o Trinocular: Extra port for photomicrography

•  Objective lenses: Most veterinary clinics will want to have objective powers of 4x, 10x, 40x, and 100X. Magnification that is advertised above 1000x is providing empty magnification and poor resolution and should be avoided.

•  Ocular lenses: Should be purchased from the same source as the objectives to ensure compatibility 

•  Condenser: The numerical aperture (N.A.) of the condenser should be equal or greater than that of the highest power objective

•  Nosepiece: Make sure it’s easy to rotate and allows access to objectives for regular cleaning

•  Reticles: You may want to mount a crosshair or scale reticle in an ocular for viewing a visual ruler when looking through the microscope.

Don’t Forget Microscope Maintenance
Once you have selected the right veterinary microscope for your clinic, remember to train all those who will be using it. Covering the microscope when not in use, avoiding touching lenses and proper cleaning can extend the life of your equipment and make sure you’re getting reliable results. Microscopy can help improve your level of patient care and be a significant revenue source for veterinary clinics. If used regularly and maintained well, your new microscope could pay for itself in just a few weeks. 

Have questions about which microscope is right for you? Or need service for an existing microscope? Contact Microscope World at 800-942-0528.