Digital Pathology: Taking Veterinary Diagnostics To The Next Level

NationWide Laboratories has made the move to go digital with their pathology capabilities, thanks to the addition of the 3DHistech PANNORAMIC® 1000 RX digital scanner. This high-capacity scanner can scan up to 100 slides an hour and 2000 in a day, with high resolution for processing cytology, haematology, and histology.

“The images produced are of top quality, with the ability for water immersion, which is particularly useful for viewing cytology and haematology samples. This advancement in technology has improved work efficiency remarkably, and the images produced by the scanner are phenomenal.” – Kerry Freel

Digital pathology offers numerous advantages over traditional pathology methods. One of the most significant advantages is the ability to send scanned images anywhere in the world. This speeds up reporting, particularly for second opinions or specialist opinions. The view yielded from a scanned image is far superior to that of a microscope, giving a full view of the entire sample all at once rather than the constraints of the field of view from a microscope objective.

Apocrine ductal adenoma – cat skin.

Higher magnification to show cell detail.

In addition, digital pathology allows for more accurate measurement of surgical margins. The addition of AI to digital images also allows for progression towards reduced interobserver variation resulting in quicker, more accurate, and reproducible diagnoses.

“The fact is, we’re not going to be just looking at H&E sections for much longer. The world is definitely changing and already in histology we’ve moved from just looking at H&E slides to immunohistochemistry and onto molecular diagnostics. Digital imaging opens up a whole new avenue of diagnostics which is AI and deep learning focused.” – Kerry Freel

These AI algorithms look for cell variations and patterns beyond the ability of the human eye. In human medicine, deep learning is already being used for grading prostate biopsies and identifying biomarkers in breast cancer. AI and deep learning can predict changes in the genome of a cell towards a particular type of cancer, known as “high level labels.” This means that with AI looking for these high-level markers, we can use a single sample on a simple H&E slide to get the same information, reducing the time for final diagnosis, prognosis, and potentially personalized treatment on a genomic level.

The move towards digital pathology has far-reaching implications, and with the addition of the 3DHistech PANNORAMIC® 1000 RX digital scanner, NationWide Laboratories is at the forefront of this change. In particular, there is an increasing focus on predicting clinically relevant labels directly from histology in three major areas: inference of genetic alterations, prediction of survival, and prediction of treatment response. While veterinary medicine still lags behind its human counterparts in this arena, with the addition of digital scanners, NationWide Laboratories stands ready to move the moment the opportunity arises.

In conclusion, the adoption of digital pathology by NationWide Laboratories has brought significant benefits to the field of pathology. Digital imaging allows for faster and more accurate diagnoses, as well as opening up new avenues of diagnostics through the use of AI and deep learning. With the ability to send scanned images anywhere in the world, this advancement in technology has improved work efficiency remarkably, and with the potential for personalized medicine on a genomic level, the future of digital pathology looks bright.

More About Kerry Freel & Nationwide Laboratories

Kerry Freel BVMS GPCert (SAS) FRCPath MRCVS

Anatomic Pathologist at NationWide Laboratories

Kerry graduated from the University of Glasgow Veterinary School in 1999. After 5 years in mixed practice, she undertook a residency in anatomical pathology at the Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies where she gained experience in gross postmortem, histological and cytological evaluation of tissues from all domestic species, wildlife and exotics. She was awarded her Dip RCPath in 2008 and after a short spell as a pathologist at Glasgow University Veterinary School she obtained her FRCpath in 2010 when she joined the laboratory full time. She is also a senior examiner in Veterinary Anatomical Pathology with the Royal College of Pathologists.

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