Fine-needle aspiration cytology of the breast: a preliminary report on telepathology through Internet multimedia electronic mail

Mod Pathol. 1997 Jun;10(6):636-41.


Telepathology is a field of telemedicine that enables the exchange of histologic and cytologic images for consultations among pathologists of two or more remote institutions, through a suitable communication channel. The Internet can connect several scientific and medical institutions because of the existence of a set of standard protocols that allow different computers to communicate; multimedia electronic mail is one such protocol, which allows asynchronous transmission of multimedia documents, i.e., including text, images, movies, and sounds. The aim of the present article is to test a novel approach in which Internet multimedia electronic mail is used as a communication medium to obtain an asynchronous telepathology tool for remote consultation. To assess the diagnostic validity of the method, 48 cases of fine-needle aspiration cytology of breast lesions were sent from Udine to Trento, Italy. Comparisons between local and remote diagnoses, and cytologic diagnoses versus subsequent histologic reports demonstrated that Internet multimedia electronic mail is suitable for remote consultation. Internet multimedia electronic mail thus presents an additional diagnostic tool that is easy to use, available on a wide range of computers, and inexpensive, because its cost is independent of distance.

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Needle*
  • Breast / pathology*
  • Computer Communication Networks*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Middle Aged
  • Multimedia*
  • Observer Variation
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Remote Consultation*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telepathology / methods*