Digital pathology

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Digital Pathology is an image-based information environment which is enabled by computer technology that allows for the management of information generated from a digital slide. Digital pathology is enabled in part by virtual microscopy, which is the practice of converting glass slides into digital slides that can be viewed, managed, and analyzed on a computer monitor. With the advent of Whole-Slide Imaging, the field of digital pathology has exploded and is currently regarded as one of the most promising avenues of diagnostic medicine in order to achieve even better, faster and cheaper diagnosis, prognosis and prediction of cancer and other important diseases.


In pathology, trained pathologists look at tissue slides under a microscope. The tissue on those slides may be subjected to staining to highlight structures. When those slides are digitized, they then have the potential to be numerically analyzed using computer algorithms. Algorithms can be used to automate the manual counting of structures, or for classifying the condition of tissue such as is used in grading tumors.[1] This could reduce human error and improve accuracy of diagnoses. Digital slides are also, by nature, easier to share than physical slides. This increases potential for using data for education and consultations between two or more experts.


Digital pathology has been approved by the FDA for primary diagnosis.[2] But unlike digital radiology where the elimination of film made return on investment (ROI) clear, the ROI on digital pathology equipment is less obvious. The strongest ROI justification includes improved quality of healthcare, increased efficiency for pathologists, and reduced costs in handling glass slides.[3]

Digital Pathology Environment[edit]


Digital slides are created from glass slides using a scanning device. Digital pathology requires high quality scans free of dust, scratches, and other obstructions.[4]


Digital slides are accessible for viewing via a computer monitor and viewing software either locally or remotely via the Internet.

Example: digital pathology tissue slide stained with Her2/neu biomarker used for diagnosis of breast cancer.


Digital slides are maintained in an information management system that allows for archival and intelligent retrieval.


Digital slides are often stored and delivered over the Internet or private networks, for viewing and consultation.


Image analysis tools are used to derive objective quantification measures from digital slides. Pattern recognition and visual search tools are used to classify specimen imagery and identify medically significant regions of digital slides.


Digital pathology workflow is integrated into the institution's overall operational environment.


Digital pathology also allows internet information sharing for education, diagnostics, publication and research.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rosai, J.; Ackerman, L. V. (1979). "The Pathology of Tumors, Part III: Grading, Staging & Classification". CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 29 (2): 66. doi:10.3322/canjclin.29.2.66. 
  2. ^ "FDA allows marketing of first whole slide imaging system for digital pathology". Retrieved May 24, 2017. 
  3. ^ "How to Build a Business Case to Justify the Investment in Digital Pathology". Sectra Medical Systems. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  4. ^ Flagship Biosciences. "How to Improve Whole Slide Scanning in Digital Pathology". Flagship Biosciences LLC. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Academic Digital Pathology Sites[edit]

Commercial Digital Pathology Sites[edit]

Other Relevant sites[edit]