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Digital pathology and COVID-19 and future crises: pathologists can safely diagnose cases from home using a consumer monitor and a mini PC
  1. Alessia Cimadamore1,
  2. Antonio Lopez-Beltran2,
  3. Marina Scarpelli1,
  4. Liang Cheng3,
  5. Rodolfo Montironi1
  1. 1 Section of Pathological Anatomy, Polytechnic University of Marche Region, School of Medicine, United Hospitals, Ancona, Marche, Italy
  2. 2 Department of Surgery, Universidad de Cordoba Facultad de Medicina y Enfermeria, Cordoba, Spain
  3. 3 Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Rodolfo Montironi, of Pathological Anatomy, Polytechnic University of the Marche Region (Ancona), School of Medicine, Torrette di Ancona, Italy; r.montironi{at}

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COVID-19 pandemic has a profound impact on routine pathology services.1 Digital pathology can play a role ‘to safeguarding clinical services and pathology-based research in the current climate and in the future’.1 This digital-based approach to diagnosis represents a new way in the evaluation of surgical pathology slides from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue (FFPE). It makes the pathologist free from the constraints of using an optical microscope in his/her office. At the same time, it can have an effect on ‘social interaction’ among pathologists, including their interplay with clinicians and even patients. A recent contribution from our group briefly dealt with the changing aspects of such a relationship at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.2 The aim was to try to foresee how the kind of experience acquired during the pandemic could have influenced the approach to histopathology in the digital and postdigital eras.

Our laboratories as well as many others worldwide, even though not yet ready for substituting and replacing the optical microscope with a scanner for digital pathology image creation, already have digital cameras and scanners for ‘sharing images and consulting, teaching and communicating with clinicians and patients’.2

Still images versus virtual slides

Still images, that is, images obtained with a digital camera connected to an optical microscope and representing the area(s) of interest selected by a pathologist in the whole tissue section, can be shown on a display device. This is what can be done for quick intradepartmental consultation while trying to keep social distancing at work. However, by using this simple approach, …

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  • Handling editor Runjan Chetty.

  • Contributors RM conceived the study. AC and RM wrote the manuscript. AL-B, MS and LC provided expert revision. All authors reviewed and contributed to the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.