Use of whole slide imaging in surgical pathology quality assurance: design and pilot validation studies

Hum Pathol. 2006 Mar;37(3):322-31. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2005.11.005.


By imaging large numbers of slides automatically at high resolution, modem automated whole slide imaging (WSI) systems have the potential to become useful tools in pathology practice. This article describes a pilot validation study for use of automated high-speed WSI systems for surgical pathology quality assurance (QA). This was a retrospective comparative study in which 24 full genitourinary cases (including 47 surgical parts and 391 slides) were independently reviewed with traditional microscopy and whole slide digital images. Approximately half the cases had neoplasia in the diagnostic line. At the end of the study, diagnostic discrepancies were evaluated by a pathology consensus committee. The study pathologists felt that the traditional and WSI methods were comparable for case review. They reported no difference in perceived case complexity or diagnostic confidence between the methods. There were 4 clinically insignificant discrepancies with the signed-out cases: 2 from glass slide and 2 with WSI review. Of the 2 discrepancies reported by the WSI method, the committee agreed with the reviewer once and the original report once. At the end of the study, the participants agreed that automated WSI is a viable potential modality for surgical pathology QA, especially in multifacility health systems that would like to establish interfacility QA. The participants felt that major issues limiting the implementation of WSI-based QA did not involve image acquisition or quality but rather image management issues such as the pathologist's interface, the hospital's network, and integration with the laboratory information system.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Male
  • Male Urogenital Diseases / diagnosis
  • Microscopy / instrumentation
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Pathology, Surgical / standards*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors