Comparative diagnostic accuracy in virtual dermatopathology

Skin Res Technol. 2011 May;17(2):251-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0846.2010.00493.x. Epub 2011 Jan 19.


Background: Virtual microscopy can be used to teach histology and pathology and for in-training and certification examinations. A few online consultation websites already utilize virtual microscopy, thereby expanding the role of telemedicine in dermatopathology. There are, however, relatively few studies comparing the diagnostic accuracy and acceptability of virtual slides compared to traditional glass slides.

Methods: Ten Nordic dermatopathologists and pathologists were given a randomized combination of 20 virtual and glass slides and asked to identify the diagnoses. They were then asked to give their impressions about the virtual images. Descriptive data analysis and comparison of groups using Fisher's exact test were performed.

Objective: To compare the diagnostic ability of dermatopathologists and pathologists in two image formats: the traditional (glass) microscopic slides, and whole mount digitized images, and to elucidate their assessment of virtual microscopy in dermatopathology.

Results: Dermatopathologists and pathologists performed similarly in diagnosing dermatopathological disorders using virtual slides vs. glass slides, virtual 0.85 and glass 0.81, P=0.286. The order of administration of virtual or glass slides did not affect the percentage of questions answered correctly. Seven of nine participants completing the questionnaire, felt virtual microscopy is useful for both learning and testing.

Conclusion: There was no significant difference in the participants' diagnostic ability using virtual slides compared with glass slides. Most participants agreed that virtual microscopy is a useful tool for learning and testing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Competency-Based Education / methods
  • Competency-Based Education / standards
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods*
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / standards
  • Dermatology / education*
  • Dermatology / standards
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / methods*
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / standards
  • Humans
  • Microscopy / methods
  • Pathology, Clinical / education*
  • Pathology, Clinical / standards
  • Skin Diseases / pathology*
  • User-Computer Interface