Virtual microscopy and digital pathology in training and education

APMIS. 2012 Apr;120(4):305-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0463.2011.02869.x.


Traditionally, education and training in pathology has been delivered using textbooks, glass slides and conventional microscopy. Over the last two decades, the number of web-based pathology resources has expanded dramatically with centralized pathological resources being delivered to many students simultaneously. Recently, whole slide imaging technology allows glass slides to be scanned and viewed on a computer screen via dedicated software. This technology is referred to as virtual microscopy and has created enormous opportunities in pathological training and education. Students are able to learn key histopathological skills, e.g. to identify areas of diagnostic relevance from an entire slide, via a web-based computer environment. Students no longer need to be in the same room as the slides. New human-computer interfaces are also being developed using more natural touch technology to enhance the manipulation of digitized slides. Several major initiatives are also underway introducing online competency and diagnostic decision analysis using virtual microscopy and have important future roles in accreditation and recertification. Finally, researchers are investigating how pathological decision-making is achieved using virtual microscopy and modern eye-tracking devices. Virtual microscopy and digital pathology will continue to improve how pathology training and education is delivered.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Technology / methods
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction / methods*
  • Education, Medical / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted* / instrumentation
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted* / methods
  • Internet
  • Microscopy / instrumentation
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Pathology / education*
  • Pathology / instrumentation
  • Telepathology / instrumentation
  • Telepathology / methods
  • User-Computer Interface