J Clin Pathol 57:1288-1291 doi:10.1136/jcp.2004.018739
  • Original article

A digital atlas of breast histopathology: an application of web based virtual microscopy

  1. M Lundin2,
  2. J Lundin2,
  3. H Helin3,
  4. J Isola1
  1. 1Institute of Medical Technology, University and University Hospital of Tampere, 33014 Tampere, Finland
  2. 2Biomedical Informatics Group, Department of Oncology, University of Helsinki, FIN-00290 Helsinki, Finland
  3. 3Division of Pathology, HUSLAB, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor J Isola
    Institute of Medical Technology, 33014 University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland;
  • Accepted 17 May 2004


Aims: To develop an educationally useful atlas of breast histopathology, using advanced web based virtual microscopy technology.

Methods: By using a robotic microscope and software adopted and modified from the aerial and satellite imaging industry, a virtual microscopy system was developed that allows fully automated slide scanning and image distribution via the internet. More than 150 slides were scanned at high resolution with an oil immersion ×40 objective (numerical aperture, 1.3) and archived on an image server residing in a high speed university network.

Results: A publicly available website was constructed,, which features a comprehensive virtual slide atlas of breast histopathology according to the World Health Organisation 2003 classification. Users can view any part of an entire specimen at any magnification within a standard web browser. The virtual slides are supplemented with concise textual descriptions, but can also be viewed without diagnostic information for self assessment of histopathology skills.

Conclusions: Using the technology described here, it is feasible to develop clinically and educationally useful virtual microscopy applications. Web based virtual microscopy will probably become widely used at all levels in pathology teaching.