Chapter 1. Virtual Microscopy

  1. Mary Hannon-Fletcher Lecturer2 and
  2. Perry Maxwell Principal Clinical Scientist3
  1. Jim Diamond Lecturer and
  2. David McCleary Doctoral Student

Published Online: 11 MAY 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470745069.ch1

Advanced Techniques in Diagnostic Cellular Pathology

Advanced Techniques in Diagnostic Cellular Pathology

How to Cite

Diamond, J. and McCleary, D. (2009) Virtual Microscopy, in Advanced Techniques in Diagnostic Cellular Pathology (eds M. Hannon-Fletcher and P. Maxwell), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9780470745069.ch1

Editor Information

  1. 2

    The University of Ulster, Coleraine, UK

  2. 3

    Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology, Belfast, UK

Author Information

  1. Queen's University Belfast, Centre for Cancer Research & Cell Biology, 97 Lisburn Road, Belfast, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 11 MAY 2009
  2. Published Print: 17 APR 2009

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470515976

Online ISBN: 9780470745069



  • virtual microscopy - origins in telemedicine;
  • acquisition, storage and transmission of microscope images from local site to remote site for specific reasons;
  • virtual microscopy and telepathology infrastructure;
  • static imaging telepathology - store-and-forward or passive telepathology;
  • digital (virtual) microscopy - equipment for implementation;
  • Aperio ScanScope scanning system;
  • Hamamatsu NanoZoomer system and NanoZoomer Digital Pathology (NDP);
  • virtual microscopy applications - image server and image viewer;
  • virtual microscopy in combination with sophisticated image analysis;
  • virtual microscopy implementations in education - within domains of computer-aided learning (CAL) and self-directed learning (SDL)


Digital pathology is a computational approach to delivering pathology in the 21st century. This is an environment that allows pathologists/scientists to manage, organise, analyse and visually interpret information generated from the digitisation of traditional glass microscopy slides. Central to the advancement of digital pathology is the concept of virtual microscopy, which is defined as the practice of converting entire glass slides to high-resolution digital images. The virtual slide is a complete representation of the glass microscope slide and can be viewed at any magnification on a high resolution computer monitor. A significant advantage of the virtual slide is that users can view these slides locally to the computer or more importantly via a web-based delivery mechanism. Virtual slides are multi-gigabyte images that represent tissue details from the microscope slide and are created with modern slide scanning equipment. Currently available slide scanners can automatically load and scan several hundred slides sequentially. This chapter will highlight virtual microscopy and the scanning process. It will also highlight the importance of downstream considerations to the scanning process. It is important to realise that having the virtual slide is not the end-game but simply the beginning of a digital revolution that is set to grip pathology and microscopy as it has traditionally been practiced.