Comparative Analysis Reveals Potential Utility of Digital Microscopy in the Evaluation of Peripheral Blood Smears With Some Barriers to Implementation

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American journal of clinical pathology


OBJECTIVES: Evaluation of the peripheral blood smear (PBS) is an essential diagnostic test in current medical practice. We aimed to evaluate the use of digital microscopy for the examination of PBS as an option to provide expert interpretation to remote sites and in "on-call" situations.

METHODS: We collected 100 Wright-Giemsa-stained PBS slides representing normal and abnormal findings seen at a community-based hospital. Four hematopathologists independently evaluated the cases using conventional light and digital microscopy.

RESULTS: When comparing digital vs light microscopy, most of the cellular features evaluated showed at least a moderate degree of agreement in at least three of the reviewers. Discrepancies in final diagnosis were identified in a minority of the cases, most of which were attributed to the poorer resolution of digital microscopy at high magnification (×400).

CONCLUSIONS: These results support the limited use of digital microscopy for evaluation and triage of peripheral blood smears as a practical option to obtain expert opinion in locations where experienced staff is not available on site. Our results indicate that while digital microscopy is well suited for basic triage of these blood smears, limitations in quality of imaging at higher magnification as well as large file size may limit its utility in certain settings and situations.

Medical Subject Headings

Blood Cells; Humans; Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted; Microscopy

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