Virtual surgical pathology in underdeveloped countries: The Zambia Project

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2011 Feb;135(2):215-9. doi: 10.5858/135.2.215.


Only 1 surgical pathology laboratory is available in Zambia, a country with a population of 12 million people. Since 2004 the Italian association of pathologists Patologi Oltre Frontiera has been working to create a virtual laboratory through the use of telemedicine. The project has involved staining histologic preparations on site, with the interpretation of imaged slides performed abroad through telepathology. Starting in April 2007, all surgical specimens obtained in Mtendere Mission Hospital, Chirundu, Zambia, were submitted for microscopic examination through whole-slide scans. Two independent Italian pathologists evaluated the cases by means of satellite connection and the final diagnoses were sent to Zambian clinicians via the internet. This article describes the spectrum of diagnoses made via telepathology for the Zambian population. Also, we analyze the concordant and discordant data between this telepathology method and traditional microscopy in a developing country. Moreover, we provide possible solutions for providing pathology services in other underdeveloped countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Developing Countries*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy
  • Pathology, Surgical / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Telepathology / methods*
  • Zambia