Whole-slide imaging digital pathology as a platform for teleconsultation: a pilot study using paired subspecialist correlations

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2009 Dec;133(12):1949-53. doi: 10.5858/133.12.1949.


Context: -Whole-slide imaging technology offers promise for rapid, Internet-based telepathology consultations between institutions. Before implementation, technical issues, pathologist adaptability, and morphologic pitfalls must be well characterized.

Objective: -To determine whether interpretation of whole-slide images differed from glass-slide interpretation in difficult surgical pathology cases.

Design: -Diagnostically challenging pathology slides from a variety of anatomic sites from an outside laboratory were scanned into whole digital format. Digital and glass slides were independently diagnosed by 2 subspecialty pathologists. Reference, digital, and glass-slide interpretations were compared. Operator comments on technical issues were gathered.

Results: -Fifty-three case pairs were analyzed. There was agreement among digital, glass, and reference diagnoses in 45 cases (85%) and between digital and glass diagnoses in 48 (91%) cases. There were 5 digital cases (9%) discordant with both reference and glass diagnoses. Further review of each of these cases indicated an incorrect digital whole-slide interpretation. Neoplastic cases showed better correlation (93%) than did cases of nonneoplastic disease (88%). Comments on discordant cases related to digital whole technology focused on issues such as fine resolution and navigating ability at high magnification.

Conclusions: -Overall concordance between digital whole-slide and standard glass-slide interpretations was good at 91%. Adjustments in technology, case selection, and technology familiarization should improve performance, making digital whole-slide review feasible for broader telepathology subspecialty consultation applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Pathology, Clinical / methods*
  • Pathology, Surgical / methods
  • Remote Consultation / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Telepathology / methods*