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J Med Internet Res. 2003 Apr-Jun;5(2):e11.

Development and evaluation of the virtual pathology slide: a new tool in telepathology.

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  • 1School of Biotechnology, Medical Informatics Group, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.



The Virtual Pathology Slide is an interactive microscope emulator that presents, via the Internet or CD-ROM, a complete 15.53 mm x 11.61 mm digitalized tissue section. The Virtual Pathology Slide mimics the use of a microscope in both the stepwise increase in magnification (from 16x up to 2000x) and in lateral motion in the X and Y Cartesian directions. This permits a pathologist to navigate to any area on a slide, at any magnification, similar to a conventional microscope.


The aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic accuracy and acceptability of the Virtual Pathology Slide.


Ten breast needle core biopsies were randomly selected and presented to 17 pathologists or trainee pathologists with at least 2 years experience in pathology practice. Participants were required to examine each case online and provide a diagnostic classification using online feedback forms. The recorded data permitted examination of interobserver variability and user satisfaction.


Agreement between original glass-slide diagnosis and consensus diagnosis using the Virtual Pathology Slide was reached in 9 out of 10 slides. Percentage concordance for slides lay in the range of 35.3% to 100% with an average percentage concordance between slides of 66.5%. The average Kappa statistics for interobserver agreement was 0.75 while average percentage concordance amongst participants was 66.5%. Participants looked at an average of 22 fields of view while examining each slide. Confidence: 81.25% of the participants indicated confidence using the Virtual Pathology Slide to make a diagnostic decision, with 56.25% describing themselves as "reasonably confident," 18.75% as "confident," and 6.25% as "very confident." Ease of use: 68.75% reported the system as "easy" or "very easy" to use. Satisfaction: 87.5% of participants expressed satisfaction with image quality, with 43.75% describing the image quality as "adequate," 25% describing it as "good," and 18.75% describing the image quality as "excellent." Pathologists with a working bandwidth greater than 20 kilobits per second found the download speed of the Virtual Pathology Slide "adequate" or better.


Results from this study show that the Virtual Pathology Slide can be used to make a correct diagnostic decision, and that the system is a realistic alternative to dynamic telepathology.

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