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Anal Cell Pathol. 2000;21(3-4):213-22.

Reliability of telepathology for frozen section service.

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  • 1Robert Bosch Hospital, Department of Pathology, Stuttgart, Germany.


One of the most promising applications of telepathology (pathology at a distance by electronic transmission of images in pathology) is frozen section diagnosis, especially because by means of this tool operations requiring an intraoperative histopathological diagnosis are feasible at hospitals without a pathologist on-site. For the introduction of this diagnostic tool into pathologist's daily practice the evidence of its diagnostic accuracy comparable to that of the conventional frozen section diagnosis is crucial. For this purpose the literature on the diagnostic accuracy of telepathological frozen section diagnosis was reviewed. In a metaanalysis these studies and reports, in which a total of more than 1290 cases had been examined, showed a slightly lower overall diagnostic accuracy (of the telepathological frozen section diagnosis) of about 0.91 than the conventional frozen section diagnosis with an average accuracy of about 0.98 found in an analysis of several studies (on frozen section diagnosis of different organs). This difference is at least predominantly caused by a higher rate of deferred and false negative frozen section diagnoses in the telepathological method, while the specificity of both methods, each more than 0.99 was not significantly different. In conclusion, the introduction of a telepathological frozen section diagnosis for hospitals without an acceptable access to a pathologist is justifiable already at the current state of the technological development especially when considering the advantages (time saving, reduction in costs) compared to the alternative of surgical interventions without access to an intraoperative diagnosis.

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