Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Pathol Inform. 2011;2:46. doi: 10.4103/2153-3539.86285. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Evaluation and optimization for liquid-based preparation cytology in whole slide imaging.

Author information

  • 1Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, 02114, USA.



Cytology poses different obstacles in whole slide imaging compared to surgical pathology slides. A single focal plane suffices for most of the latter, but cytology slides are thicker, potentially requiring multiple focal planes for adequate diagnostic information. Multiple focal planes adversely impact scanning time per slide, evaluation times, and file sizes. In this pilot study, we evaluated and compared the multilayer stack method to the extended focus algorithm as an alternative which collapses multiple focal planes into a single image, retaining only focused areas from each plane.


10 SurePath(®) cervical cytology slides were scanned at three thickness settings: 18, 24, and 30 μm. Three scanners were used: (1) Hamamatsu Nanozoomer 2.0-HT, (2) 3DHISTECH Mirax scan, and (3) Bioimagene iScan Coreo Au. The Nanozoomer and iScan utilized multilayer stacking, while the Mirax files were composited by extended focus. Scan times and file sizes were recorded, and image quality compared.


The Nanozoomer stacks averaged 1.58 gb and around 25 min for each slide, while the iScan stacks ranged from 6.23 to 9.3 gb and took 34-50 min to scan. The Mirax images averaged 210 mb and took 13-20 min to scan. Multilayer stack image quality from both Nanozoomer and iScan was fairly comparable. The iScan revealed significant mechanical issues that did not correspond to user settings. The Mirax images showed worrisome loss of crisp focus detail, worsening with increasing focal planes and impacting assessment of nuclear contours and chromatin detail.


The optimal number of focal planes remains unknown for cytology. Multilayer stacks require excessive scanning time, network bandwidth, and file storage. Extended focus was evaluated as an alternative, but significant image quality issues were revealed. Further large-scale studies are needed to assess their clinical impact.


Cytology; cytopathology; digital; pathology; whole slide imaging

Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Medknow Publications and Media Pvt Ltd Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk