A Practical Guide to Whole Slide Imaging: A White Paper From the Digital Pathology Association

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2019 Feb;143(2):222-234. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2018-0343-RA. Epub 2018 Oct 11.


Context.—: Whole slide imaging (WSI) represents a paradigm shift in pathology, serving as a necessary first step for a wide array of digital tools to enter the field. Its basic function is to digitize glass slides, but its impact on pathology workflows, reproducibility, dissemination of educational material, expansion of service to underprivileged areas, and intrainstitutional and interinstitutional collaboration exemplifies a significant innovative movement with far-reaching effects. Although the benefits of WSI to pathology practices, academic centers, and research institutions are many, the complexities of implementation remain an obstacle to widespread adoption. In the wake of the first regulatory clearance of WSI for primary diagnosis in the United States, some barriers to adoption have fallen. Nevertheless, implementation of WSI remains a difficult prospect for many institutions, especially those with stakeholders unfamiliar with the technologies necessary to implement a system or who cannot effectively communicate to executive leadership and sponsors the benefits of a technology that may lack clear and immediate reimbursement opportunity.

Objectives.—: To present an overview of WSI technology-present and future-and to demonstrate several immediate applications of WSI that support pathology practice, medical education, research, and collaboration.

Data sources.—: Peer-reviewed literature was reviewed by pathologists, scientists, and technologists who have practical knowledge of and experience with WSI.

Conclusions.—: Implementation of WSI is a multifaceted and inherently multidisciplinary endeavor requiring contributions from pathologists, technologists, and executive leadership. Improved understanding of the current challenges to implementation, as well as the benefits and successes of the technology, can help prospective users identify the best path for success.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Pathology, Clinical / methods*