Systematic Review
. 2018 Nov; 12(6):678-685.
doi: 10.1002/ase.1844.

Optical Versus Virtual Microscope for Medical Education: A Systematic Review

Kuo-Hsing Kuo 1 Joyce M Leo 2 
  • PMID: 30414261
  •     67 References
  •     5 citations


Many technological innovations have changed the traditional practice of medical education and clinical practice. Whole slide imaging (WSI) technology provided an unique way of viewing conventional glass slides in histology and pathology laboratories. The WSI technology digitalized glass slide images and made them readily accessible via the Internet using tablets or computers. Users utilized the pan-and-zoom function to view digital images of slides, also referred to as the virtual microscope (VM), simulating use of an optical microscope (OM). Several articles have reported various outcomes on the utility of VM in teaching laboratories. Recently, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada certification examinations for anatomical pathologists ha completely adopted VM for the national licensing examination. To better inform medical educators, there is an urgent need for more structured reviews to draw evidence-based conclusions on the effectiveness of VM and learner's perceptions, in comparison to OM. The current study provides a descriptive summary of published outcomes using the systematic review approach. In conclusion, medical students' performance was improved with adoption of VM into the curriculum and recognized as a preferred learning modality, compared to OM. On the contrary, resident learners' performance was comparable between using OM and VM, with OM being the favored slide-viewing modality.

Keywords: histology education; histopathology; medical education; optical microscopy; pathology education; review; students performance; virtual microscopy; whole slide imaging.

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