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The application of virtual microscopy in a dermatopathology educational setting: assessment of attitudes among dermatopathologists


  • Funding: none.
  • Conflicts of interest: none.



Whole-slide imaging with virtual microscopy is increasingly used as a tool in resident education and training, board certification and maintenance of certification examinations, and diagnostic evaluation. The objective of this study was to determine attitudes toward virtual microscopy compared with traditional glass slide microscopy during a continuing medical education dermatopathology workshop.


Twenty-three board-certified, practicing or retired dermatopathologists were given 26 “advanced” cases to review using both virtual microscopy and traditional glass slides. Diagnostic accuracy was not assessed because of the complexity of the cases. Participants were surveyed on: (i) their previous experience with digital imaging; (ii) the quality, ease of use, and speed of slide review; and (iii) overall attitudes toward digital and traditional review.


Equal proportions of participants did and did not have prior experience with digital imaging of histopathologic specimens. Most participants preferred to use both virtual microscopy and traditional microscopy together. The quality of glass slides was rated as better than that of digital images, but virtual microscopy achieved higher ratings for ease of navigation and overall satisfaction.


Virtual microscopy is a useful tool for dermatopathology workshops. Specifically, dermatopathologists with and without prior digital slide review experience responded favorably to viewing slides on a computer monitor. Overall satisfaction was high, and the majority of participants indicated that they would use virtual microscopy in the future. These results show a trend toward the acceptance of digital slide review, which supports the inevitable expansion of this practice in an increasingly digitized world.