The effectiveness of annotated (vs. non-annotated) digital pathology slides as a teaching tool during dermatology and pathology residencies




With today's technology, paraffin-embedded, hematoxylin & eosin-stained pathology slides can be scanned to generate high quality virtual slides. Using proprietary software, digital images can also be annotated with arrows, circles and boxes to highlight certain diagnostic features. Previous studies assessing digital microscopy as a teaching tool did not involve the annotation of digital images. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of annotated digital pathology slides versus non-annotated digital pathology slides as a teaching tool during dermatology and pathology residencies.


A study group composed of 31 dermatology and pathology residents was asked to complete an online pre-quiz consisting of 20 multiple choice style questions, each associated with a static digital pathology image. After completion, participants were given access to an online tutorial composed of digitally annotated pathology slides and subsequently asked to complete a post-quiz. A control group of 12 residents completed a non-annotated version of the tutorial.


Nearly all participants in the study group improved their quiz score, with an average improvement of 17%, versus only 3% (P = 0.005) in the control group.


These results support the notion that annotated digital pathology slides are superior to non-annotated slides for the purpose of resident education.