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Analytical Cellular Pathology
Volume 35, Issue 1, Pages 25-30
http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/ACP-2011-0032

Static Digital Telepathology: A Model for Diagnostic and Educational Support to Pathologists in the Developing World

Aliyah R. Sohani1 and Moez A. Sohani2

1Department of Pathology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
2The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA

Copyright © 2012 Hindawi Publishing Corporation and the authors. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Background: The practice of pathology in the developing world presents challenges in terms of limited resources, shortages of trained personnel, and lack of continuing education programs. Telepathology holds promise as a means of diagnostic and educational support.

Methods: We donated multiheaded teaching microscopes equipped with digital cameras to four hospitals in Eastern Africa and trained local pathologists on their use. Static images of challenging cases were posted on a web-based telepathology platform. A U.S.-based pathologist reviewed images in consultation with subspecialist colleagues.

Results: Over a period of 40 months, 109 cases were submitted for second opinion consultation, including 29 dermatopathology cases (26.6%), 14 hematopathology cases (12.8%), and 13 cases each (11.9%) in cytopathology and bone and soft tissue pathology. Static images enabled a complete or partial diagnosis in 100/109 cases (91.7%). Factors precluding a definitive diagnosis included absence of confirmatory immunophenotyping, technical issues, or lack of clinical history. Case responses included a diagnosis and discussion, including differential diagnosis, references, and treatment recommendations.

Conclusion: Static digital telepathology is a simple, cost-effective, reliable and efficient means to provide diagnostic and educational support to pathologists in the developing world. Additional training may help overcome technical factors precluding a definitive diagnosis in certain cases.