The old pathology technique is still used, which makes it difficult for pathologists to produce reliable results on time. Longer wait times are inconvenient for patients and might cause treatment to be delayed. However, digital growth and telepathology could have added more advances in this area. In this blog, we will see these important factors to describe why we should look for digital pathology.
The Digital Pathology Platforms may be selected based on four important components of the digital pathology system:
- Using digital scanners to capture photos (of slides): Glass slides are digitally reproduced utilizing entire slide scanning and appropriate technologies in a suggestive way. Images are scanned at high resolution and with sufficient color depth so that they may be reproduced at the magnifications required for diagnostic and research purposes.
- Preserving and storing the images: The method for storing virtual slides is largely determined by the desired application. Local storage is adequate for local diagnosis, but off-site storage may be necessary for remote consultation, which can be accomplished using a variety of methods, including RAID, optical/tape-based, cloud storage, or a hybrid approach. Using the telepathology process, storing and transferring the images can be shared for proper research.
- Editing and altering photographs that have been captured: Digital slides allow pathologists to manipulate pictures according to their needs, such as magnification, zoom-in/out, and so on.
- Images may be seen and shared with a variety of stakeholders: including physicians, patients, research institutes, and so on. Advanced visualization techniques are available in certain applications, allowing users to examine numerous pictures in a single frame. Whole Slide Imaging (WSI) allows for clinical diagnostics and picture viewing in conjunction with the patient's clinical history, as well as additional slides or images from the same patient (e.g., serial sections, IHC, grossing photos, radiology, etc.).
Factors of the current trend of digitization in Pathology
The challenges and limitations experienced by pathologists and patients owing to traditional pathology workflow may be easily solved with the advent of digitalization in pathology. The notion entails digitizing the collecting, management, exchange, and interpretation of pathology information.
Digital pathology is not a new notion; it dates back over a century when specialized equipment was initially developed and pictures from a microscope were recorded on a photographic plate using a camera. Telepathology has been established for around 50 years; however, in the last ten years, pathology has experienced a complete digital transition, moving from an analog to an electronic environment.
Benefits and Limitations of Digital Pathology should also be considered
Digital pathology is quickly gaining traction as a tried-and-true technology, with special support for education, tissue-based research, medication discovery, and human pathology practice throughout the world. It's a breakthrough that aims to lower laboratory costs, increase operational efficiency, boost productivity, and improve treatment decisions and patient care.
Digital pathology has a number of advantages, some of which are described below:
- Improved analysis: The algorithms for examining slides offered are objective, precise, and quicker than microscopy. Long-term predictive analytics for improved accuracy is attainable with fast access to earlier examples.
- Reduced errors: Digital slides decrease the risk of glass slides breaking, while barcoding reduces the chance of misidentification.
- Better visualization: Digitalization allows for real zooming and varied angle views, which leads to more accurate analysis. It allows pathologists to annotate slides and see data and annotations in dashboard displays.
- Streamlined workflow and improved outsourcing are made possible by central storage. Flexible work periods and secure remote access are also possible.
- Reduced turnaround time: When compared to manual reviews, the time required for slide retrieval, data matching, and arranging findings has been greatly reduced.
- Cost-effective: By eliminating many stages and transportation services, it was able to save money.
- Crossing geographical divides: Experts have become more connected to the virtual world as a result of digitalization. It also gives remote regions the ability to educate, train, and share expertise.
Despite the numerous advantages, only a few providers have used digitalization in the pathology process for initial diagnosis due to a number of drawbacks:
- Data storage: High-resolution photographs need a large data storage capacity, which poses a barrier, as does their transmission across systems.
- Non-standardization: Because digital pathology methods are not standardized, there are just a few options on the market right now.
- High costs: Setting up or upgrading to digital pathology networks necessitates a significant financial expenditure. The uncertainty of possible return on investment is delaying digital pathology's acceptance and growth pace.
- Data security: To handle data and secure high-level data secrecy, robust networks are necessary, according to regulatory criteria.
Digital pathology is a revolutionary technology that has aided virtual pathology and has the potential to supplant traditional pathology techniques. The whole process has been digitalized and automated, from image collection through analysis to clinical decision support, reducing the duration of procedures, the time necessary for analysis, and pathologists' human intervention.
Pathologists can now communicate with one another via digital pathology for remote consultations and reliable analysis. To present, digital pathology has mostly aided pathologists in secondary diagnosis and analytical validation. It is considered that digital pathology is not intended to replace pathologists, but rather to assist them in making quick and correct decisions.