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A Critical Analysis of Live Blood Microscopy by Dr Michael Midgley, MB, ChB, MRCGP, MBKS

Introduction

In November 2004 I presented a talk to the British Society for Asthma, Nutritional and Environmental Medicine that was illustrated with moving images of living blood.  It highlighted the pitfalls of Live Blood Microscopy and also suggested possible viable clinical parameters.

In the July 2005 issue of CAM Magazine, I presented an article about the Neutrophil Vitality Index (NVI) and hypothesised that the NVI is significantly reduced in patients suffering from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, compared with healthy controls.

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Overton Studios Trust has now released a 25-minute film (available as DVD or VHS) entitled:

‘Live Blood Microscopy – Pitfalls And Possible Parameters’.

that provides a permanent record of both these presentations.

Orthodox medical science is often dismissive of Live Blood Microscopy (LBM).  Nevertheless, I believe that LBM may have some advantages over the standard laboratory procedure.

Standard laboratory blood sampling, for microscopy purposes, involves smearing the blood onto a slide and then staining it. Although this technique has many uses, it kills the blood cells and modifies their appearance under the microscope.  It is therefore impossible, for example, to measure the speed at which a neutrophil is travelling.  This measurement is essential for determining the NVI and is relatively easy using LBM – as described in detail in the film itself.

The film presents a detailed account of my ongoing research into the probable pitfalls and possible parameters of LBM in clinical practice.  It also describes my research into the relationship between the NVI and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Caveat

I must stress that this film is based entirely on my own observations over a period of only about two years.  My researches are ongoing and I shall update the film, from time to time, as dictated by future observations made by myself and, I hope,  by others.

Description

The first 10 minutes of the film are devoted to my own scepticism about the claims made for LBM and to the pitfalls that I have encountered.

The remaining 15 minutes are devoted to the parameters that might, just possibly, be clinically viable.  Many more observations are required before firm conclusions can be drawn.  But I hope that others will be stimulated by this film and will advance the cause of LBM by making and reporting on such observations to Overton Studios Trust.

Technical data

I use a high quality Leica DMLB microscope, Phase Contrast illumination and magnifications varying from 500 times to over 5000 times.  Moving images from the microscope are captured by a JVC CCD 3-chip camera and transferred to a dedicated computer.  The images are edited using an Avid Xpress Pro digital editing programme.  A sound track is then added.

Review by Dr David Freed MD

My heart sank when I heard that my old friend and fellow truth-seeker, Mike Midgley, had bought a powerful Leica microscope for the purpose of studying Live Blood Microscopy (LBM). It is true that the hardware is beautiful and up-to-date and I confess I rather covet it, but the clinical usefulness of LBM remains to be proven and I feared that someone might have sold Mike a white elephant.

LBM has actually been around since microscopes emerged from their adolescence and began to resemble something that a modern pathologist might recognise. Metchnikoff used LBM in the late 19th century to describe phagocytosis.   Watching white cell movement has been a hobby for pathologists ever since. But, in order to get hard and useful information for the patient in the clinic, they soon discovered that you have to fix and stain the cells first. Everyone knows that this imposes artificial restraints on what can be learned and failure to use LBM in conventional hospital laboratories is not (as its purveyors sometimes like to insinuate) due to stupidity or for want of trying. Conventional pathologists have been down this road many times over the years and it takes an intrepid amateur to claim success where they have repeatedly failed.

Nevertheless, new ideas and new situations do occur in Medicine – fast enough for any doctor to observe during his own lifetime. A case in point is Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and its associated conditions, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Fibromyalgia (FM). Still controversial, there is no agreement over their definition, their features, their treatment and even, in some quarters, their existence. Most serious of all, although many physiological abnormalities have been reported, there is still no reliable test for these conditions and they remain a rather amorphous clinical entity (though not to the sufferer!).

Here Mike Midgley comes into his own. A sufferer (in remission) himself, and now armed with optical and electronic hardware undreamt-of  by his predecessors, he picks up where Metchnikoff left off. This film presents his findings so far. In some ways LBM falls far short of the claims made by its purveyors, notably repeatability.  But, with close attention to sampling technique, Dr Midgley appears to have ironed out most of the artefactual difficulties. His preliminary findings on neutrophil activation and vitality are extremely interesting and, if the same pattern emerges from larger-scale studies, this will be a genuine breakthrough.

I am also intrigued (as many others have been) by the live micro-organisms that one frequently sees crossing the screen. It will not be possible to know whether these come from the patient or have dropped into the specimen from the air, until the experiments are repeated in an operating-theatre environment. I look forward eagerly to finding out if they have the significance that has been claimed, for example in cancer.

The reputation of LBM has suffered from over-enthusiastic promotion, and this is a great pity because the technique is far from dead and may yet have much to teach. I’m glad I never bought the apparatus, but I’m equally glad that Mike Midgley did.

If you are interested in LBM, either as a practitioner, a researcher or as a patient, this film is a must for you.

David L.J. Freed MB, MD, CBiol, MIBiol.    Director, Salford Allergy Clinic

Availability

This 25-minute film can be obtained direct from Overton Studios Trust, in either VHS or DVD format, by sending a cheque for £20.00, €33.00, or US $38.00 to Overton Studios Trust, 7 Bevan Avenue, COLWYN BAY LL28 5AD, UK.  Alternatively, it can be purchased online using a Credit or Debit Card, by logging on to:

http://www.ostrust.co.uk/lbmfm.htm

Contact information

Please address queries about this article by e-mail to:

michael@ostrust.co.uk