Journal Article
. 2005 May; 36(4):381-6.
doi: 10.1016/j.humpath.2005.01.020.

Web-based virtual microscopy in teaching and standardizing Gleason grading

Henrik Helin 1 Mikael Lundin  Johan Lundin  Paula Martikainen  Teuvo Tammela  Heikki Helin  Theo van der Kwast  Jorma Isola  
  • PMID: 15891999
  •     21 citations


Gleason grading forms the basis of prognostic and therapeutic assessment in prostatic carcinoma despite its subjective nature and substantial interobserver variation. The accuracy of Gleason grading can be improved by the use of educational tools such as reference images. However, conventional microscopy images are of limited educational value because it is neither possible to view the sample at different magnifications nor to navigate into different areas of the specimen. This limitation can be overcome by the use of virtual microscopy, which allows viewing entire digitized microscope slides. We created an interactive Web site ( ) featuring a comprehensive set of prostatic needle biopsies as virtual slides, which can be viewed with a standard Web browser (Internet Explorer or Netscape). To evaluate the validity of Web-based virtual microscopy for Gleason grading, an experienced uropathologist (TK) scored a series of 62 biopsies from the original glass slides and 6 weeks later from virtual slides on the Web site using an ordinary desktop computer. The intraobserver agreement was excellent, with identical Gleason scores found in 48 of the 62 cases ( kappa = 0.73). The 14 remaining scores differed only by 1 point on the Gleason scale (2-10). The virtual slides were viewed by 2 other uropathologists (PM and HH), with interobserver kappa coefficients ranging from 0.55 to 0.62, which is within the range of previously reported studies using glass slides. The 3 uropathologists' Gleason scores were included as reference scores on the Web site, which now serves as a publicly open platform for self-testing and learning of Gleason grading. We conclude that Web-based virtual microscopy is a promising new tool for teaching and standardizing Gleason grading.

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