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Software for analyzing digital pathology images proving its usefulness
Date:1/13/2012

As tissue slides are more routinely digitized to aid interpretation, a software program whose design was led by the University of Michigan Health System is proving its utility.

In a new study, a program known as Spatially Invariant Vector Quantization (SIVQ) was able to separate malignancy from background tissue in digital slides of micropapillary urothelial carcinoma, a type of bladder cancer whose features can vary widely from case to case and that presents diagnostic challenges even for experts.

The findings by U-M and Rutgers University researchers were published online in Analytical Cellular Pathology ahead of print publication.

"Being able to pick out cancer from background tissue is a key test for this type of software tool," says U-M informatics fellow Jason Hipp, M.D., Ph.D., who shares lead authorship of the paper with resident Steven Christopher Smith, M.D., Ph.D. "This is the type of validation that has to happen before digital pathology tools can be widely used in a clinical setting."

To test the software's ability to identify cancer in a digital slide, a group of human pathologists first pinpointed the cancer the old fashioned way, by hand. Their work was then used as the gold standard for grading the program's results. Researchers then systematically tested which settings within the program produced the most accurate results which can serve as a blueprint for optimizing the software to detect other types of cancer and disease.

Diagnosing cancer and other pathologies from tissue slides has always been part science and part art. Pathologists pore over samples looking for certain structural anomalies or counting microscopic features.

But different pathologists or even the same pathologist at different times may come to different conclusions based on a number of factors, including whether a slide is viewed at high or low magnification, or even whether the pathologist is fatigued from exa
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Contact: Ian Demsky
idemsky@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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