. 2015 Apr; 90(5):321-30.
doi: 10.3109/10520295.2015.1033463.

Whole slide imaging: uses and limitations for surgical pathology and teaching

B F Boyce 1 
  • PMID: 25901738
  •     13 citations


Advances in computer and software technology and in the quality of images produced by digital cameras together with development of robotic devices that can take glass histology slides from a cassette holding many slides and place them in a conventional microscope for electronic scanning have facilitated the development of whole slide imaging (WSI) systems during the past decade. Anatomic pathologists now have opportunities to test the utility of WSI systems for diagnostic, teaching and research purposes and to determine their limitations. Uses include rendering primary diagnoses from scanned hematoxylin and eosin stained tissues on slides, reviewing frozen section or routine slides from remote locations for interpretation or consultation. Also, WSI can replace physical storage of glass slides with digital images, storing images of slides from outside institutions, presenting slides at clinical or research conferences, teaching residents and medical students, and storing fluorescence images without fading or quenching of the fluorescence signal. Limitations include the high costs of the scanners, maintenance contracts and IT support, storage of digital files and pathologists' lack of familiarity with the technology. Costs are falling as more devices and systems are sold and cloud storage costs drop. Pathologist familiarity with the technology will grow as more institutions purchase WSI systems. The technology holds great promise for the future of anatomic pathology.

Keywords: consultation; digital pathology; digital slides; frozen sections; pathology resident education; review; slide staining quality; slide storage; virtual slides; whole slide imaging.

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