A European network for virtual microscopy--design, implementation and evaluation of performance

Virchows Arch. 2009 Apr;454(4):421-9. doi: 10.1007/s00428-009-0749-3. Epub 2009 Mar 12.


Web-based virtual microscopy has enabled new applications within pathology. Here, we introduce and evaluate a network of academic servers, designed to maximize image accessibility to users from all regions of Europe. Whole-slide imaging was utilized to digitize the entire slide set (n = 154) for the slide seminars of the 21st European Congress of Pathology. The virtual slides were mirrored to five academic servers across Europe using a novel propagation method. Functionality was implemented that automatically selects the fastest server connection in order to optimize the slide-viewing speed ( http://www.webmicroscope.net/ECP2007). Results show that during 6 months of monitoring the uptime of the network was 100%. The average viewing speed with the network was 3.1 Mbit/s, as compared to 1.9 Mbit/s using single servers. A good viewing speed (>2Mbit/s) was observed in 32 of 37 countries (86%), compared to 25 of 37 (68%) using single servers. Our study shows that implementing a virtual microscopy network spanning a large geographical area is technically feasible. By utilizing existing academic networks and cost-minimizing image compression, it is also economically feasible.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computer Communication Networks* / instrumentation
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Internet
  • Libraries, Digital*
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Pathology, Clinical* / instrumentation
  • Pathology, Clinical* / methods
  • User-Computer Interface*