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Slide Scanners in Modern Digital Pathology

These optical based high-tech instruments provide the users with what experts call "whole slide images".

  • Leica SCN400 Slide Scanner

Creating digital slides

Some customers ask about the benefits and advantages of such instruments compared to the fully motorized microscope-camera systems, which has been on the market since a long time.

To answer this question, you must understand the differences between both optical systems.

  • With motorized microscope systems the user can take digital images of one or more regions of interest in different magnifications.
  • In contrast to that, slide scanners create images of the complete slide in arbitrary magnifications.

This is, why the method is also called "whole slide imaging" or "whole slide scanning". And the so created files are called "virtual slides" or "digital slides".

Benefits and applications

The advantages of a slide scanner compared to a conventional digital microscopy system are variously. With the slide scanner software a user is able to observe and navigate on a PC-monitor the whole digitized image, which contains even the information to change magnifications (zoom-in or-out).

Additionally the slide scanner files can be made available via intranet or internet. This enables users to set e.g. a diagnosis from virtually everywhere.

With these opportunities a second opinion is much easier, more convenient and safer, because the pathologist does not need to trust on the regions of interest another colleague has taken, he can set his own regions of interest on the digital slide the slide scanner provides.

Even teaching of pathology students and future pathologists profit from digital pathology: studies of digital slides can be made easily from home and each student gets the same specimen to observe.

With slide scanners the door to the arena of digital pathology has been opened widely and various applications up to semi-automated self-diagnostics will follow step-by-step.