A feasibility study of virtual slides in surgical pathology in China

Hum Pathol. 2007 Dec;38(12):1842-8. doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2007.04.019. Epub 2007 Sep 14.


China's huge territorial expanse and its imbalance of regional economic development have resulted in an uneven distribution of experienced pathologists. Developing telepathology for consultation is of special relevance to China. We developed a newly designed telepathology workstation, which includes a small file size of each slide, permitting easy transmission, storage, and manipulation, and a feedback function, and also evaluated its feasibility in surgical pathology in China. Four hundred cases covering a broad spectrum of surgical pathology problems were investigated in a blinded fashion by the 2 pathologists using this virtual microscope system. These cases were then randomized and re-reviewed a second time with light microscope. Diagnoses and time spent for each diagnosis were recorded for both methods. The diagnostic accuracies achieved by viewing glass slides and virtual images were 97.25% (389 of 400) and 95.5% (382 of 400) for pathologist A and 96.25% (385 of 400) and 94.75% (379 of 400) for pathologist B, respectively. There was no significant diagnostic discrepancy between the 2 methods for the 2 pathologists. The average times for viewing a virtual slide were 3.41 and 5.24 minutes for pathologists A and B, respectively, whereas the average times for viewing a glass slide were 1.16 and 3.35 minutes for pathologists A and B. There was a statistical difference between the time costs of the 2 methods. However, the slight time increase using virtual slides is less than that using dynamic telepathology and traditional consultation, and is acceptable to the pathologists. These results showed that this newly designed virtual microscope system have an acceptable diagnostic accuracy that is of practical value and may be suitable for application in China.

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pathology, Surgical / economics
  • Pathology, Surgical / instrumentation
  • Pathology, Surgical / methods*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Telepathology / economics
  • Telepathology / instrumentation
  • Telepathology / methods*
  • Time