Faster Than Light (Microscopy): Superiority Of Digital Pathology Over Microscopy For Assessment Of Immunohistochemistry

An example of a liver biopsy case used in this study. It includes a haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stained slide alongside six other slides stained with typical immunohistochemical stains used in liver biopsy cases.


Digital pathology offers the potential for significant benefits in diagnostic pathology, but currently the efficiency of slide viewing is a barrier to adoption. The University of Leeds Digital Pathology Team hypothesised that presenting digital slides for simultaneous viewing of multiple sections of tissue for comparison, as in those with immunohistochemical panels, would allow pathologists to review cases more quickly.



Novel software was developed to view synchronised parallel tissue sections on a digital pathology workstation. Sixteen histopathologists reviewed three liver biopsy cases including an immunohistochemical panel using the digital microscope, and three different liver biopsy cases including an immunohistochemical panel using the light microscope. The order of cases and interface was fully counterbalanced. Time to diagnosis was recorded and mean times are presented as data approximated to a normalised distribution.



Mean time to diagnosis was 4 min 3 s using the digital microscope and 5 min 24 s using the light microscope, saving 1 min 21 s (95% CI 16 s to 2 min 26 s; p=0.02), using the digital microscope. Overall normalised mean time to diagnosis was 85% on the digital pathology workstation compared with 115% on the microscope, a relative reduction of 26%.



To conclude, the digital microscope reduced time per case by 1 min 21 s per case and a relative reduction of 26%, without any major diagnostic errors as compared with the light microscope. This is likely due to the ability to view multiple slides simultaneously, which is not possible using analogue systems. We anticipate that these time- savings will have a major improvement on pathologist productivity at a time where pathology services are strained, and serve as a point from which to build other user interfaces to enhance pathologist productivity.

Correspondence to Dr Emily Clarke, Division of Pathology and Data Analytics, University of Leeds, Leeds LS9 7TF, UK; e. l. clarke@ leeds. ac. uk


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