Display Characteristics and Their Impact on Digital Pathology: A Current Review of Pathologists' Future "Microscope"


Digital displays (monitors) are an indispensable component of a pathologists’ daily workflow, from writing reports, viewing whole-slide images, or browsing the Internet. Due to a paucity of literature and experience surrounding display use and standardization in pathology, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) has currently restricted FDA-cleared whole-slide imaging systems to a specific model of display for each system, which at this time consists of only medical-grade (MG) displays. Further, given that a pathologists’ display will essentially become their new surrogate “microscope,” it becomes exceedingly important that all pathologists have a basic understanding of fundamental display properties and their functional consequences. This review seeks to: (a) define and summarize the current and emerging display technology, terminology, features, and regulation as they pertain to pathologists and review the current literature on the impact of different display types (e.g. MG vs. consumer off the shelf vs. professional grade) on pathologists’ diagnostic performance and (b) discuss the impact of the recent digital pathology device componentization and the coronavirus disease 2019 public emergency on the pixel pathway and display use for remote digital pathology. Display technology has changed dramatically over the past 20 years and continues to change at a rapid rate. There is a paucity of published studies to date that investigate how display type affects pathologist performance, with more research necessary in order to develop standards and minimum specifications for displays in digital pathology. Given the complexity of modern displays, pathologists must become better informed regarding display technology if they wish to have more choice over their future “microscopes.”

J Pathol Inform
Toby C. Cornish
Toby C. Cornish
Professor of Pathology and Data Science Institute

Clinical informaticist, gastrointestinal pathologist, and researcher.