The microscopic study remains to this day the gold standard for pathology. However, technology has disrupted almost every space it has entered, and pathology has not remained untouched. Opening up areas that weren’t thought of before, the latest imaging technology not only aids in precision diagnosis, but also helps global medical services converge.
The field of pathology for over a century has relied heavily on the hand-operated microscope by pathologists to make a diagnosis. To this day, the microscope remains the gold standard in the majority of pathological laboratories. However, the advent of technology has scratched the surface, leaving a lasting mark on the field of pathology to revolutionize in ways rarely contemplated. Yes, digitization of pathology is on the rise and has established itself as the primary means of inferring diagnosis from specimen slides for precision diagnosis and revealing several other vital information that might go unnoticed in primitive addiction under the microscope.
From recording sample details with precision imaging technology, to studying the sample in specialized devices that facilitate 3D access to the sample, allowing readings to be logged accurate, to keeping patient records on the cloud repository for future reference from anywhere in the world, the pathology space has seen revolutionary changes with the advent of technology.
Imaging technology, although fairly nascent in Asian markets, particularly in India, is set to bring an array of advantages over the age-old study of slides under a microscope.
The study of cancer has become streamlined and constant with genomic sciences. The application of genomic science ensures early diagnosis and marks the stage accurately. By helping to recognize molecular changes in the tumor, molecular imaging has flourished in this space. In the field of pathology, to effectively assess the sample for cancer, genomics-based molecular techniques have certainly paved the way. Reportedly, techniques such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), array-comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH), and DNA sequencing help reveal chromosomal abnormalities.
Using imaging such as fluorescent probes and high-resolution scanners, these technologies help the pathologist improve results that would have been suspicious with a microscope alone. Imaging therefore makes the diagnosis more complete and detailed for the doctor who will evaluate the results and guide future procedures accordingly.
The main advantage of imaging technology for its conservatism is its ability to provide various angles and high resolution to help pathologists study the specimen accurately and in some cases even help them make indicator observations. which can turn into rare diseases.
Digital imaging brings a noticeable change to the traditional diagnostic process. A large population of India still resides in rural areas with nominal medical infrastructure as a lack of organized pathological services in their vicinity. Thanks to the installation of scanners in the health systems there, the images can be analyzed remotely by a pathologist from anywhere across the country. The process thus becomes streamlined and unshakable, with an immediate transfer of information, linking everything together.
A similar case study in Canada indicated that the unavailability of pathologists in rural areas is a persistent gap. To address this, one hospital then invested in scanners to operate remotely, allowing pathologists stationed anywhere in the country to virtually access cases. The case study highlighted a range of benefits of carrying out this process, including removing the burden of valuable resources such as logistics, including freezing services, transportation of samples from the village to pathology centers in the nearest town, etc. In addition, several hospitals conducted the studies. in synchronization to avoid errors and bring consistent results to the specimens studied. This has reduced critical costs while providing precision pathology services.
Additionally, cloud technology enables pathology centers to store large digital images and make them accessible to anyone around the world while ensuring protected access. Image viewing software combined with social networking tools can help balance the demand and supply of virtual pathology services across the world. Providing consulting opportunities for pathologists while ensuring precision care for patients around the world can be a win-win situation for everyone. According to reports, some US companies and institutions like the University of Pittsburgh have contracts with companies in China and other countries to report and analyze cases from US-based pathologists.
Finally, let us know how running through the whole procedure of imaging technology becomes indestructible in the case of Science Pathology? Let’s say that the imaging software is connected to the laboratory information system (LIS). This will help create a repository of patient and sample data to be managed, communicated and stored by specific people with access permissions. Take for example – the sample of an oral cancer patient reaches a local pathologist in Mumbai. Here the sample slide is created, stained and digitized. To perform additional tests, the LIS places an order electronically. The receiving laboratory in Delhi performs additional molecular tests and scans the results for review by the pathologist. The pathologist still connected on his LIS, captures the additional tests and fills the results in a complete report with an image of the FISH results. The report is then emailed to the referring doctor, who can be at home while accessing the email through their smartphone. By being redirected to the website, he can access the LIS report. After the assessment, he can inform the patient about other medical procedures in real time, without having to meet in person. This data remains stored for future reference of the patient’s medical history by any other doctor in another country. This is how imaging technology tends to be indestructible in the scientific pathology space.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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