Background: Since microscopic slides can now be automatically digitized and integrated in the clinical workflow, quality assessment of Whole Slide Images (WSI) has become a crucial issue. We present a no-reference quality assessment method that has been thoroughly tested since 2010 and is under implementation in multiple sites, both public university-hospitals and private entities. It is part of the FlexMIm R&D project which aims to improve the global workflow of digital pathology. For these uses, we have developed two programming libraries, in Java and Python, which can be integrated in various types of WSI acquisition systems, viewers and image analysis tools.
Results: We designed the Java library as a Service Provider Interface (SPI), extendable by third parties. Analysis is computed in real-time (3 billion pixels per minute). Tests were made on 5000 single images, 200 NDPI WSI, 100 Aperio SVS WSI converted to the Google Maps format.
Conclusions: Applications based on our method and libraries can be used upstream, as calibration and quality control tool for the WSI acquisition systems, or as tools to reacquire tiles while the WSI is being scanned. They can also be used downstream to reacquire the complete slides that are below the quality threshold for surgical pathology analysis. WSI may also be displayed in a smarter way by sending and displaying the regions of highest quality before other regions. Such quality assessment scores could be integrated as WSI's metadata shared in clinical, research or teaching contexts, for a more efficient medical informatics workflow.