Virchows Archiv

, Volume 467, Issue 2, pp 137–144 | Cite as

Digital slide viewing for primary reporting in gastrointestinal pathology: a validation study

  • Maurice B. Loughrey
  • Paul J. Kelly
  • Oisin P. Houghton
  • Helen G. Coleman
  • Joseph P. Houghton
  • Anne Carson
  • Manuel Salto-Tellez
  • Peter W. Hamilton
Original Article


Despite the increasing availability of digital slide viewing, and numerous advantages associated with its application, a lack of quality validation studies is amongst the reasons for poor uptake in routine practice. This study evaluated primary digital pathology reporting in the setting of routine subspecialist gastrointestinal pathology, commonplace in most tissue pathology laboratories and representing one of the highest volume specialties in most laboratories. Individual digital and glass slide diagnoses were compared amongst three pathologists reporting in a gastrointestinal subspecialty team, in a prospective series of 100 consecutive diagnostic cases from routine practice in a large teaching hospital laboratory. The study included a washout period of at least 6 months. Discordant diagnoses were classified, and the study evaluated against recent College of American Pathologists (CAP) recommendations for evaluating digital pathology systems for diagnostic use. The study design met all 12 of the CAP recommendations. The 100 study cases generated 300 pairs of diagnoses, comprising 100 glass slide diagnoses and 100 digital diagnoses from each of the three study pathologists. 286 of 300 pairs of diagnoses were concordant, representing intraobserver concordance of 95.3 %, broadly comparable to rates previously published in this field. In ten of the 14 discordant pairs, the glass slide diagnosis was favoured; in four cases, the digital diagnosis was favoured, but importantly, the 14 discordant intraobserver diagnoses were considered to be of minor clinical significance. Interobserver, or viewing modality independent, concordance was found in 94 of the total of 100 study cases, providing a comparable baseline discordance rate expected in any second viewing of pathology material. These overall results support the safe use of digital pathology in primary diagnostic reporting in this setting.


Digital pathology Whole slide imaging Validation Gastrointestinal 



The research leading to these results has received funding from the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7/2007–2013/ under REA grant agreement no. [285910]. Helen G. Coleman is funded via a Cancer Research UK Population Research Postdoctoral Fellowship (2013–2015).

Conflict of interest

All authors undertook this work out as paid employees of their respective organisations. Professor Peter Hamilton is the founder of and director with PathXL Ltd.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maurice B. Loughrey
    • 1
    • 2
  • Paul J. Kelly
    • 1
    • 2
  • Oisin P. Houghton
    • 1
  • Helen G. Coleman
    • 3
  • Joseph P. Houghton
    • 4
  • Anne Carson
    • 5
    • 6
  • Manuel Salto-Tellez
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peter W. Hamilton
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of PathologyRoyal Victoria Hospital, Belfast TrustBelfastUK
  2. 2.Northern Ireland Molecular Pathology LaboratoryQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK
  3. 3.Centre for Public HealthQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK
  4. 4.Centre for Medical EducationQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK
  5. 5.Northern Ireland Biobank, Centre for Cancer Research and Cell BiologyQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK
  6. 6.Pathology Imaging and Informatics, Centre for Cancer Research and Cell BiologyQueen’s University BelfastBelfastUK

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