. 2015 May; 90(5):341-7.
doi: 10.3109/10520295.2015.1044566.

Applications and challenges of digital pathology and whole slide imaging

C Higgins 1 
  • PMID: 25978139
  •     14 citations


Virtual microscopy is a method for digitizing images of tissue on glass slides and using a computer to view, navigate, change magnification, focus and mark areas of interest. Virtual microscope systems (also called digital pathology or whole slide imaging systems) offer several advantages for biological scientists who use slides as part of their general, pharmaceutical, biotechnology or clinical research. The systems usually are based on one of two methodologies: area scanning or line scanning. Virtual microscope systems enable automatic sample detection, virtual-Z acquisition and creation of focal maps. Virtual slides are layered with multiple resolutions at each location, including the highest resolution needed to allow more detailed review of specific regions of interest. Scans may be acquired at 2, 10, 20, 40, 60 and 100 × or a combination of magnifications to highlight important detail. Digital microscopy starts when a slide collection is put into an automated or manual scanning system. The original slides are archived, then a server allows users to review multilayer digital images of the captured slides either by a closed network or by the internet. One challenge for adopting the technology is the lack of a universally accepted file format for virtual slides. Additional challenges include maintaining focus in an uneven sample, detecting specimens accurately, maximizing color fidelity with optimal brightness and contrast, optimizing resolution and keeping the images artifact-free. There are several manufacturers in the field and each has not only its own approach to these issues, but also its own image analysis software, which provides many options for users to enhance the speed, quality and accuracy of their process through virtual microscopy. Virtual microscope systems are widely used and are trusted to provide high quality solutions for teleconsultation, education, quality control, archiving, veterinary medicine, research and other fields.

Keywords: biological imaging; digital imaging; digital microscope; digital pathology; digital slide; image analysis; image resolution; microscope; pathology; virtual microscopy; virtual slide; whole slide imaging.

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