Digital microscopy: past, present, and future

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2010 Nov;134(11):1666-70. doi: 10.5858/2009-0579-RAR1.1.


Context: Digital viewing of histologic images is moving from presentations and publications to incorporation into the daily work of practicing pathologists. Many technologic limitations have been overcome recently, which should make widespread adoption more practical. The task now is for pathologists to become actively involved in its development and implementation, to ensure that the technology is developed with the intent to optimize workflow and to maintain diagnostic accuracy. An understanding of the basic precepts of digital imaging is required to make informed decisions related to hardware and software implementation and to collaborate with vendors and professionals outside of pathology (eg, regulatory agencies) as the technology rapidly develops.

Objective: To describe the state of digital microscopy as it applies to the field of pathology and to define specific issues related to adoption of whole slide imaging systems.

Data sources: The information is derived from the experience of the author and review of the literature.

Conclusions: Digital microscopy is an important tool for surgical pathologists. It is currently an area of intense and rapid technologic development that will likely transform the workflow of many laboratories during the next several years.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / trends*
  • Laboratories / trends
  • Microscopy / methods
  • Microscopy / trends*
  • Pathology, Surgical / methods
  • Pathology, Surgical / trends*