An automated system for whole microscopic image acquisition and analysis

Microsc Res Tech. 2014 Sep;77(9):697-713. doi: 10.1002/jemt.22391. Epub 2014 Jun 11.


The field of anatomic pathology has experienced major changes over the last decade. Virtual microscopy (VM) systems have allowed experts in pathology and other biomedical areas to work in a safer and more collaborative way. VMs are automated systems capable of digitizing microscopic samples that were traditionally examined one by one. The possibility of having digital copies reduces the risk of damaging original samples, and also makes it easier to distribute copies among other pathologists. This article describes the development of an automated high-resolution whole slide imaging (WSI) system tailored to the needs and problems encountered in digital imaging for pathology, from hardware control to the full digitization of samples. The system has been built with an additional digital monochromatic camera together with the color camera by default and LED transmitted illumination (RGB). Monochrome cameras are the preferred method of acquisition for fluorescence microscopy. The system is able to digitize correctly and form large high resolution microscope images for both brightfield and fluorescence. The quality of the digital images has been quantified using three metrics based on sharpness, contrast and focus. It has been proved on 150 tissue samples of brain autopsies, prostate biopsies and lung cytologies, at five magnifications: 2.5×, 10×, 20×, 40×, and 63×. The article is focused on the hardware set-up and the acquisition software, although results of the implemented image processing techniques included in the software and applied to the different tissue samples are also presented.

Keywords: microscopic image acquisition; pathology; virtual microscopy; whole slide image.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Automation
  • Autopsy
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Lung / anatomy & histology*
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy / instrumentation
  • Microscopy / methods*
  • Prostate / anatomy & histology
  • Prostate / pathology*
  • Software