Factors to keep in mind when introducing virtual microscopy
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Digitization of glass slides and delivery of so-called virtual slides (VS) emulating a real microscope over the Internet have become reality due to recent improvements in technology. We have implemented a virtual microscope for instruction of medical students and for continuing medical education. Up to 30,000 images per slide are captured using a microscope with an automated stage. The images are post-processed and then served by a plain hypertext transfer protocol (http)-server. A virtual slide client (vMic) based on Macromedia's Flash MX, a highly accepted technology available on every modern Web browser, has been developed. All necessary virtual slide parameters are stored in an XML file together with the image. Evaluation of the courses by questionnaire indicated that most students and many but not all pathologists regard virtual slides as an adequate replacement for traditional slides. All our virtual slides are publicly accessible over the World Wide Web (WWW) at http://vmic.unibas.ch. Recently, several commercially available virtual slide acquisition systems (VSAS) have been developed that use various technologies to acquire and distribute virtual slides. These systems differ in speed, image quality, compatibility, viewer functionalities and price. This paper gives an overview of the factors to keep in mind when introducing virtual microscopy.
KeywordsTelepathology Virtual slides Virtual microscopy Continuing medical education
Virtual slide acquisition system
Virtual slide system
World Wide Web
The authors thank Drs. Ray Barnhill, Martin Cook, Dirk Ruiter, Heinz Regele and Hermann-Josef Gröne for the contribution of cases for the VS seminars. This work has been supported by a grant of the University of Basel.
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