Journal of Digital Imaging

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 243–253 | Cite as

Use of Digital Whole Slide Imaging in Dermatopathology

  • Tracy OnegaEmail author
  • Lisa M. Reisch
  • Paul D. Frederick
  • Berta M. Geller
  • Heidi D. Nelson
  • Jason P. Lott
  • Andrea C. Radick
  • David E. Elder
  • Raymond L. Barnhill
  • Michael W. Piepkorn
  • Joann G. Elmore


Digital whole slide imaging (WSI) is an emerging technology for pathology interpretation, with specific challenges for dermatopathology, yet little is known about pathologists’ practice patterns or perceptions regarding WSI for interpretation of melanocytic lesions. A national sample of pathologists (N = 207) was recruited from 864 invited pathologists from ten US states (CA, CT, HI, IA, KY, LA, NJ, NM, UT, and WA). Pathologists who had interpreted melanocytic lesions in the past year were surveyed in this cross-sectional study. The survey included questions on pathologists’ experience, WSI practice patterns and perceptions using a 6-point Likert scale. Agreement was summarized with descriptive statistics to characterize pathologists’ use and perceptions of WSI. The majority of participating pathologists were between 40 and 59 years of age (62 %) and not affiliated with an academic medical center (71 %). Use of WSI was seen more often among dermatopathologists and participants affiliated with an academic medical center. Experience with WSI was reported by 41 %, with the most common type of use being for education and testing (CME, board exams, and teaching in general, 71 %), and clinical use at tumor boards and conferences (44 %). Most respondents (77 %) agreed that accurate diagnoses can be made with this technology, and 59 % agreed that benefits of WSI outweigh concerns. However, 78 % of pathologists reported that digital slides are too slow for routine clinical interpretation. The respondents were equally split as to whether they would like to adopt WSI (49 %) or not (51 %). The majority of pathologists who interpret melanocytic lesions do not use WSI, but among pathologists who do, use is largely for CME, licensure/board exams, and teaching. Positive perceptions regarding WSI slightly outweigh negative perceptions. Understanding practice patterns with WSI as dissemination advances may facilitate concordance of perceptions with adoption of the technology.


Digital whole slide imaging Melanocytic lesions Dermatopathology 



Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number R01 CA151306.


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Copyright information

© Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracy Onega
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Lisa M. Reisch
    • 3
  • Paul D. Frederick
    • 3
  • Berta M. Geller
    • 4
  • Heidi D. Nelson
    • 5
  • Jason P. Lott
    • 6
  • Andrea C. Radick
    • 7
  • David E. Elder
    • 8
  • Raymond L. Barnhill
    • 9
    • 10
  • Michael W. Piepkorn
    • 11
    • 12
  • Joann G. Elmore
    • 13
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical Data Science, Department of EpidemiologyNorris Cotton Cancer CenterLebanonUSA
  2. 2.Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthThe Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical PracticeLebanonUSA
  3. 3.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Family MedicineUniversity of Vermont BurlingtonBurlingtonUSA
  5. 5.Oregon Health & Sciences UniversityPortlandUSA
  6. 6.Yale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  7. 7.University of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  8. 8.Hospital of the University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  9. 9.Department of PathologyInstitut CurieParisFrance
  10. 10.University of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  11. 11.Division of Dermatology, Department of MedicineUniversity of Washington School of MedicineSeattleUSA
  12. 12.Dermatopathology NorthwestBellevueUSA
  13. 13.Department of MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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