Journal Article
. 2002 May; 197(2):211-7.
doi: 10.1002/path.1112.

Robotic telepathology: efficacy and usability in pulmonary pathology

F J W-M Leong 1 A G Nicholson  J O'D McGee  
  • PMID: 12015745
  •     10 citations


Robotic telepathology is well established in the USA as a method of case referral, but is less frequently used in the UK. Using cases covering a broad spectrum of pulmonary pathology, this study assessed its application in primary diagnosis and its functionality in terms of accuracy of diagnosis and time per case, for both small biopsies and open lung biopsies/resections. Forty cases (20 bronchoscopic and 20 surgical lung biopsy/resection specimens) were reviewed in blinded fashion by a single pathologist using robotic telepathology. Connection between the John Radcliffe and Royal Brompton Hospitals was via 10 Mb/s LAN to the Internet (supported by the Joint Academic Network). The cases were then randomized and reviewed a second time with conventional light microscopy. Diagnosis, initial time to reach diagnosis, and overall time per case were recorded. In two bronchoscopic biopsy cases, there were clinically significant differences between telepathology and conventional light microscopy, one probably attributable to user inexperience and the other to either speed of image capture or digital image quality. In the surgical lung biopsies and resections, there was one variation of opinion: with telepathology a case was considered to be probably mesothelioma, whereas this was thought less likely on light microscopy. In both instances, immunohistochemistry was requested prior to clinical management. Telepathology was 14 times slower than conventional light microscopy when examining bronchoscopic biopsies. The average time spent per slide was 7 min 21 s, compared with 32 s per slide with conventional light microscopy. When assessing open lung biopsies and resections, telepathology was five times slower, at 6 min 13 s compared with 1 min 10 s with conventional light microscopy. This study showed that robotic telepathology is accurate for primary diagnosis in pulmonary histopathology, but modifications in both laboratory protocols and telepathology hardware are needed to decrease the time difference between telepathology and conventional light microscopy, for telepathology to be usable within the framework of a busy referral practice.

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