Journal Article
. 2003 Jul; 5(2):e11.
doi: 10.2196/jmir.5.2.e11.

Development and evaluation of the virtual pathology slide: a new tool in telepathology

Sean S P Costello 1 Daniel J Johnston  Peter A Dervan  Daniel G O'Shea  
  • PMID: 12857667
  •     27 References
  •     22 citations


Background: The Virtual Pathology Slide is an interactive microscope emulator that presents, via the Internet or CD-ROM, a complete 15.53 mm x 11.61 mm digitalized tissue section. The Virtual Pathology Slide mimics the use of a microscope in both the stepwise increase in magnification (from 16x up to 2000x) and in lateral motion in the X and Y Cartesian directions. This permits a pathologist to navigate to any area on a slide, at any magnification, similar to a conventional microscope.

Objective: The aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic accuracy and acceptability of the Virtual Pathology Slide.

Methods: Ten breast needle core biopsies were randomly selected and presented to 17 pathologists or trainee pathologists with at least 2 years experience in pathology practice. Participants were required to examine each case online and provide a diagnostic classification using online feedback forms. The recorded data permitted examination of interobserver variability and user satisfaction.

Results: Agreement between original glass-slide diagnosis and consensus diagnosis using the Virtual Pathology Slide was reached in 9 out of 10 slides. Percentage concordance for slides lay in the range of 35.3% to 100% with an average percentage concordance between slides of 66.5%. The average Kappa statistics for interobserver agreement was 0.75 while average percentage concordance amongst participants was 66.5%. Participants looked at an average of 22 fields of view while examining each slide. Confidence: 81.25% of the participants indicated confidence using the Virtual Pathology Slide to make a diagnostic decision, with 56.25% describing themselves as "reasonably confident," 18.75% as "confident," and 6.25% as "very confident." Ease of use: 68.75% reported the system as "easy" or "very easy" to use. Satisfaction: 87.5% of participants expressed satisfaction with image quality, with 43.75% describing the image quality as "adequate," 25% describing it as "good," and 18.75% describing the image quality as "excellent." Pathologists with a working bandwidth greater than 20 kilobits per second found the download speed of the Virtual Pathology Slide "adequate" or better.

Conclusions: Results from this study show that the Virtual Pathology Slide can be used to make a correct diagnostic decision, and that the system is a realistic alternative to dynamic telepathology.

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