Biomedical Imaging Unit


The Biomedical Imaging Unit provides diagnostic services in electron microscopy for Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust and several other NHS Trusts. These services include transmission electron microscopy of a variety of biopsy types for pathological conditions that still can only be diagnosed by ultrastructural analysis (especially disease diagnosed by ultrastructural alterations to the basement membranes of kidney cells), scanning electron microscopy of hair samples, sectioning of recovered wire stents and X-ray microanalysis of pathological inclusions.


diagnostic image montage

renal pathology by TEM / EDAX X-ray microanalysis / hair morphology by SEM (click for large version)

We are also a national referral unit funded by the NHS National Commissioning Group for the specialist diagnosis of Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD) through combined light and electron microscopy approaches, providing services to the SW of the UK and further afield. PCD is a syndrome of rare hereditary diseases that affect the structure, function and behaviour of cilia in the airways, imparing lung clearance and producing lung disease. Other biological processess that involve cilia / flagellae; from patterning of the early embryo through to fertility in adults can also be affected. Diagnosis of PCD includes microscopal analysis of ciliated epithelial cells collected by brushing the nasal passages. High speed video light microscopy reveals defects in ciliary beat frequency, stroke pattern and coordination.

cilia animated gif seq

FastCam high speed video (slowed down) of beating cilia (6MB animated GIF)

High power transmission electron microscopy reveals structural and compositional defects within the cilia themselves.

cili defect montage 

defective ciliary ultrastructure, from L to R: normal / radial spoke defects / compond cilium / central pair defects / inner and outer arm defects (click for large version)

These analyses, combined with clinical history and nasal nitric oxide measurements allow a diagnosis to be made. A PCD research group from the University's Division of Infection, Inflammation and Immunity is closely linked to the Biomedical Imaging Unit and shares facilities with us.

 University of Southampton PCD reseach Group visit

 PCD family Support Group visit



Faculty of Medicine Sites:

External Sites: