Experts say the field of digital pathology will nearly double in the next few years. As a result, they expect the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to be just under 14%.
The pandemic tremendously helped to speed up the importance of telepathology solutions in healthcare.
The telepathology sector offers many different solutions to increase lab efficiency, drug development, and diagnostics.
One of the leading technologies in digital pathology is frozen sections. In fact, it’s one of the most common procedures used by surgeons.
Keep reading this article to learn more about frozen sections and the importance of this procedure in telepathology.
What Are Frozen Sections?
The frozen section procedure is a biopsy done during surgery. Its official name is cryosection. Surgeons biopsy an unknown mass and get a rapid diagnosis while the patient is under anesthesia.
Actually, the procedure has been around for a few hundred years. Although, of course, the process has modernized with time. But, the concept is not new.
Today, the procedure takes a few minutes. After removing the tissue from the patient, the surgeon gives it to the pathologist.
The pathologist will flash freeze the sample using a cryostat. The tissue sample needs to reach -15⁰C to -25⁰C before they can proceed.
Once it reaches the correct temperature, the cryostat slices the tissue sample into thin pieces using a microtome. The microtome creates many sections of a single tissue sample. Hence the name frozen sections.
Then, the pathologist stains the sample with different dyes to examine and identify it under the microscope. The dyed tissue helps for better analysis of the tissue sample.
The pathologist can provide a preliminary diagnosis to the surgeon in real-time. Then, if cancerous or infectious tissue is present, surgeons can remove it right away. This rapid procedure helps patients avoid further complications.
Frozen Sections in Digital Telepathology
Whole-Slide Imaging (WSI) technology propelled the field of digital telepathology forward. With WSI, doctors and pathologists can collect and preserve samples in high-resolution digital files.
Pathologists use telepathology scanners to digitize the samples. Advancements in WSI technology allow doctors to scan entire slides at once. Before, they had to divide a glass slide into multiple pieces of data.
WSI uses specialized cameras and high-powered microscopes to capture different views of the sample. In addition, the cameras take pictures in layers rather than as static images.
Pathologists can analyze samples better using the layers. They also compare the tissue samples to others in databases run by pathology networks and organizations.
The latest technology even allows pathologists to use portable scanners. In addition, improved scanning functions decrease human error. Live-viewing is also available.
As a result, it is easier than ever before to capture, share and save data in telepathology.
The Importance of Frozen Sections
Frozen sections have proven to yield very accurate results. Yet, permanent sections are still the most precise method. Therefore, they may still be necessary after a frozen section procedure.
This is because the pathologist will place the sample in a fixative solution. Next, they embed the tissue sample in paraffin wax. Finally, the pathologist uses dye to analyze the tissue sample.
The process is similar to a frozen sample if you exclude the freezing process.
Unfortunately, permanent sections take 1-2 days to process, so this won’t work while a patient is under anesthesia. However, the frozen sections procedure is a great way to assist the patient further.
The results of frozen sections lead to benefits for both surgeons and patients. Patients can avoid further complications and procedures if doctors remove all the infected tissue at one time.
The procedure allows doctors to locate dangerous tissues not seen by the naked eye during surgery.
Cancerous or other infectious tissues easily spread through the body. If doctors don’t remove all the tissue and its surrounding borders, it will continue to spread.
Therefore, doctors often need to take multiple biopsies to locate all the infected tissue. Cryosection allows for multiple biopsies under one procedure. This is much better than permanent sections.
Another benefit is that doctors can zoom in or alter the image to get the best reading possible when viewing the layered tissue samples. In addition, they can compare all the patient’s tissue samples together.
As mentioned previously, doctors save samples to a database to compare the tissue sample against many others worldwide.
This means doctors can collaborate with experts in different fields to get the best diagnosis possible. Then, by comparing the sample with the clinical information available, doctors can make a correct diagnosis.
Using the databases or the live-viewing feature, doctors can make real-time decisions best for their patient’s health.
Additionally, as the database of samples grows, pathologists use it in educational settings for training.
Doctors can get remote training using the data. This allows pathologists worldwide to be more educated on various diseases. It better prepares doctors in rural areas too.
Pathologists also use the data for further evaluation and scientific studies. Thus, the amount of information to study only continues to strengthen the field of digital pathology.
Save Lives With Frozen Sections
Now you have a firm understanding of frozen sections and the importance of this procedure in surgery. As medical challenges continue to arise, digital pathology and frozen sections will only grow more important.
Cryosection is already leading the way as one of the most effective procedures available to surgeons.
To learn more about the frozen section procedure, get in touch with us at Specialist Direct. Our specialists are waiting to help you with the best clinical care in telepathology