Artificial Intelligence-Based Quality Assessment of Histopathology Whole-Slide Images within a Clinical Workflow: Assessment of 'PathProfiler' in a Diagnostic Pathology Setting

Diagnostics (Basel). 2024 May 9;14(10):990. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics14100990.


Digital pathology continues to gain momentum, with the promise of artificial intelligence to aid diagnosis and for assessment of features which may impact prognosis and clinical management. Successful adoption of these technologies depends upon the quality of digitised whole-slide images (WSI); however, current quality control largely depends upon manual assessment, which is inefficient and subjective. We previously developed PathProfiler, an automated image quality assessment tool, and in this feasibility study we investigate its potential for incorporation into a diagnostic clinical pathology setting in real-time. A total of 1254 genitourinary WSI were analysed by PathProfiler. PathProfiler was developed and trained on prostate tissue and, of the prostate biopsy WSI, representing 46% of the WSI analysed, 4.5% were flagged as potentially being of suboptimal quality for diagnosis. All had concordant subjective issues, mainly focus-related, 54% severe enough to warrant remedial action which resulted in improved image quality. PathProfiler was less reliable in assessment of non-prostate surgical resection-type cases, on which it had not been trained. PathProfiler shows potential for incorporation into a digitised clinical pathology workflow, with opportunity for image quality improvement. Whilst its reliability in the current form appears greatest for assessment of prostate specimens, other specimen types, particularly biopsies, also showed benefit.

Keywords: artificial intelligence; automation; diagnosis; digital pathology; focus quality; histopathology; quality control; whole slide images.