Stereologic methods are used to obtain quantitative information about three-dimensional structures based on observations from section planes or--to a limited degree--projections. Stereologic methods, which are used in biologic research and especially in the research of normal and pathologic kidneys, will be discussed in this review. Special emphasis will be placed on modern stereologic methods, free of assumptions of the structure, size, and shape, etc., so-called UFAPP (unbiased for all practical purposes) stereologic methods. The basic foundation of all stereology, sampling, will be reviewed in relation to most of the methods discussed. Estimation of error variances and some of the basic problems in stereology will be reviewed briefly. Finally, a few comments will be made about the future directions for stereology in kidney research.
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