An American pathologist, Dr. Ronald S. Weinstein introduced digital pathology in 1986. From that time, digital pathology (DP) use has steadily increased. During the coronavirus pandemic, DP allowed pathologists to continue working without interruption.
Experts predict the Global Digital Pathology Market will reach USD 17.28 billion by 2030. This technology has created avenues for significant achievements in the field. Keep reading to learn about some of the most recent advances.
What Is Digital Pathology?
Digital pathology is one sub-field in pathology. Virtual microscopy collects images which are then shared electronically. This offers many benefits not seen when using only glass slides.
DP provides an enhanced viewing experience which improves analysis. This reduces diagnostic errors. These systems also give providers instant access to previous cases for comparison.
These advanced systems store data for use in long-term predictive analysis. Specimens are barcoded to reduce the chance of misidentification. Also, this removes concerns about lost data due to slide breakage.
Pathology teams can examine slides together. The technology provides live full zoom and different viewing angles. This streamlines the workflow and reduces turnaround times.
More innovations have come about as the technology use spreads. This creates big data that fosters collaboration and enhances pathologists’ specialization.
Advances in Digital Pathology
Advances in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have promoted new applications. Two areas that have emerged are Electronic-health (eHealth) and mobile health (mHealth). It’s now possible to use DP in cellular and organ diagnostics.
The following discusses some of the most current DP advances in the field today.
1. Organ and Body System Assessment
A key development involves Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM). DICOM-compliant diagnostic imaging tools examine the function of organs or other body systems.
2. Digital Histology and Cytology
DP also uses digital process instrumentation when performing cellular diagnostics. Most often this involves histologic and cytologic exams.
DP also digitizes biomedical laboratory data. This creates a more efficient process for integrating cytometric reports. Now reports are easier to retrieve for current and future use.
3. Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
Researchers now use AI to create algorithms for use in medical image analysis. The most common skin tumors examined by pathologists are basal cell carcinomas (BCCs).
Thus, researchers used BCC slides to test automated prescreening. This involved using an artificial neural network (ANN).
They measured the ANN’s accuracy in identifying cancerous regions and tumor classification. An accurate and intuitively interpretable ANN was used to detect BCCs. They used whole-slide image (WSI) test samples.
The researchers compared ML algorithms against expert pathologist findings. They focused on differences in recognizing diagnostic histological features and relevant patterns.
WSIs of BCCs were used to train attention-ANN in detecting tumor regions. The ANN identified regions of diagnostic relevance.
These findings were then compared to those made by pathologists. The pathologists used eye-tracking techniques for their examination.
The study found that ANN accurately detected BCC tumor regions on histologic slides. The confidence interval was 95 percent for the ROC curve, sensitivity, and specificity.
4. Digital Imaging (DI) and Video Streaming (VS)
Advances in DI and VS allow the sharing of real-time images to any location worldwide. This telepathology facilitates collaboration between professionals to provide rapid diagnosis. Waiting on test results is agonizing for patients and may impact their prognosis.
Now collaboration takes place between small facilities with limited resources and expert pathologists. Providers can quickly get second opinions and discuss treatment plans. Medical schools also use this technology for training their faculty and students.
5. Computational Pathology (CPATH)
CPATH performs basic measurements and counting as well as advanced ML exams for digital imaging. It’s able to superimpose or link more than what’s seen on a physical glass slide. This allows spatial correlation with different slides and stains.
ML provides assessment beyond traditional histopathology. For example, it’s able to create direct links between the images and clinical data. Thus it can provide information about the prognosis and mutations.
Best Digital Pathology Scanner
When considering digital pathology scanners and pathology services, look for several key features. Does the DP scanner company provide real-time connections to pathologists? Can that meet your need for STAT exams 24/7/365?
Request a demonstration of the equipment. Does the interface feel user-friendly and intuitive?
Depending on your practice, you may not use this machine on a daily basis. If there’s a steep learning curve, this may create obstacles for you and your staff.
To meet OSHA regulations, the machine needs to be easy to clean. This prevents adding tasks to your staff’s busy schedule.
Can the scanner project real-time microscopy with a live motion option? As described, this enhances collaboration and accuracy of diagnosis. It’s also key to have WSI imaging capabilities to expand your scope of pathology services.
Last, ensure that the scanner transmits high-resolution exportable files. If the consulting pathologist doesn’t have a usable image, you’ve wasted time and money.
Portable Pathology Scanner
Portable WSI microscopes and scanners should be compact and lightweight. This allows you to securely transport it from one site to another. This small-sized scanner should still include the features of larger models.
Look for models that digitize and upload slides using automated z-focus stitching functions. This creates a high-resolution digital slide that easily shareable.
You’ll want its live-mode feature to display slides on large screens. This facilitates collaboration with colleagues remotely in real-time. It also needs to have WiFi connectivity and offline function capabilities.
Also, choose a device that’s durable and ISO certified. Ask the vendor about their warranty and level of support provided.
Would Digital Pathology Benefit Your Practice?
Advances in digital pathology have proven beneficial in many different medical settings. It facilitated pathology services during the pandemic when quarantines locked everything down. Specialist Direct provides real-time access to end-to-end telehealth solutions worldwide.
Our services include telepathology, telecardiology, and teleradiology. Our digital scanners and solutions use cloud-based and HIPAA-compliant technology.
Your practice will have access to U.S. Board-Certified pathologists and subspecialists. They interpret and return finding within one hour 24/7/362. We can also accommodate STAT orders and after-hours cases.
Contact our team today for a free consultation to discuss questions and share ideas.