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- Digital Pathology -

Benefits for Today and into the Future

Digital Pathology extends the limits of microscopy, enabling students, educators, researchers, and clinicians to share tissue samples. Images sent or shared over the Internet or through specific analysis software open the path to a new and exciting microscopy tool.






Who Benefits?


Anyone who uses a microscope potentially benefits from digitized pathology images. Until the advent of this technology, histological slides and photographs the primary ways images seen under a microscope lens could be shared with others.

Digital Pathology eliminates some of the issues associated with sharing slides such as the degradation of samples and inability to share samples of live cells. In addition to preserving quality, specimen images can be transferred to colleagues in a timely fashion. Benefits include:

  • Diagnostics – a hospital can share images anywhere in the world, possibly decreasing the time it takes to properly diagnose and treat a pathogen
  • Education – colleges and universities can access an enormous database of samples, via on-line or through a network database, saving money on histological slides; students and professors will also have the ability to study images of live and dead cells
  • Finances – savings can be found from decreasing or eliminating purchases of glass slides, cover-slips, adhesives and dyes as well as the cost to preserve and send pathology specimens to colleagues or institutions

In addition, using networking tools, multiple pathologists can assure that he/she is discussing the same aspect of the sample. Digital slides can be reproduced an unlimited number of times, allowing researchers to share images uploaded on certain software applications.

Imaging Software


Researchers have a few options to share digital specimens, such as installing imaging software, utilizing digital cameras and using specially designed scanners to upload images, as well as setting up a network on the Internet to share images.

Software programs enable users to create and read the digital “slides.” Unlike traditional histological samples, microscopic users are able to create digital images of live and dead tissues; the wide range of slide possibilities also includes positive and negative gram stains, blood smears, animal, and plant cells – almost any tissue sample traditionally viewed under a microscope.

In addition, software applications make it possible to see and share images beyond microscopes such as studying images on computer monitors, laptops, iPads and other portable devices. In some circumstances, multiple researchers are able to observe and discuss the same sample in real time over the Internet.

The Future of Digital Pathology


When scientists discover new compounds or unusual tissue findings, he/she often collaborates with a wide range of colleagues. If a new air or blood disease begins to appear, doctors and scientists need to reach as many peers as possible to figure a diagnosis and solution.

Digital Pathology, in such situations, can save time, money, and lives. Scientists around the globe can observe and discuss the same sample.

Sharing information is not just for the benefit of rich urban areas; hospitals in rural areas, without access to the same technologies as bigger research hospitals, can better serve patients. In addition, pathogens that appear in 3rd world countries might be identified quicker; access to lesser-known pathogens might raise interest, increasing the number of researchers working to find cures.

Imaging analysis software can also be used to detect anomalies within a single sample or create a quantitative database. High-tech instruments can recognize morphology and structure; the sensitivity of certain pathology analysis can even include a genetic or protein profile.

Digital Images

The use of digital microscopy images benefits educators, medical researchers, and scientists. Schools can tap into a network, allowing students to view tissue samples previously impossible due to the type of pathogen or equipment and training needed to obtain an image.

Doctors have the potential to share images of specimens, possibly hastening diagnosis, or treatment options.

Researchers that use a microscope as part of his/her daily regime can use Digital Pathology software to make digital slides, create a database and use advance programming to recognize and classify a tissue sample as well as identify abnormalities.

Digital imaging technology advances possibilities in the realm of microscopy, providing a means to preserve, share, duplicate, and study a specimen.


Click to read further about digital image capture in microscopes and cameras.

Other pathology articles of interest:

Histopathology

Cytopathology

Forensic Pathology

And studying plants: Phytopathology

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