Digital imaging in pathology--current applications and challenges

J Biophotonics. 2012 Apr;5(4):327-35. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201100103. Epub 2011 Dec 29.


Conventional histopathology is rapidly shifting towards digital integration. Will microscopes (and pathologists) soon be obsolete? Or are we dealing with just another image modality that leaves the core of tissue diagnosis intact? This article provides an overview of current digital pathology applications and research with emphasis on whole slide imaging (WSI). Static or interactive digital pathology work stations already can be used for many purposes, e.g. telepathology expert consultations, frozen section diagnosis in remote areas, cytology screening, quality assurance, diagnostic validations for clinical trials, quantitation of hormone receptor or HER2 studies in breast cancer, or three-dimensional visualization of anatomical structures, among others. Changes of workflow in histology laboratories are beginning to enable digital image acquisition and WSI in a routine setting. WSI plays an increasing role in pathology education, glass slide boxes in medical schools are being replaced by digital slide collections; digital slide seminars and virtual microscopy are used for postgraduate and continuing medical education in pathology. Research and efforts to validate WSI systems for diagnostic settings are ongoing.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cytological Techniques
  • Diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional
  • Molecular Imaging / methods*
  • Pathology / education
  • Pathology / methods*
  • Telepathology