Rotterdam-based Erasmus Medical Centre has become the first hospital in the Netherlands to switch to digital for their experimental laboratory analysis of cell and tissue samples using a digital pathology system from Philips. This switch to digital forms a key step in tumour research and ultimately aims to speed up and improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases.
Philips' digital pathology technology for scanning, image processing and analysis makes it possible to obtain digital images of suspect tissue at very high resolution. This enables medical researchers to view the images efficiently from any given workplace and to gain new insight into diseases such as cancer. If cancer is suspected in a patient, tissue is removed surgically or by means of a biopsy. The tissue is then examined by a pathologist at microscopic level and sometimes also tested at molecular level. This makes it possible to ascertain whether or not the tissue is cancerous and, if so, to what extent the cancer is malignant. This process also plays a role in the analysis of large numbers of test samples for experimental cancer research in order to gain a better understanding of the causes and mechanisms of diseases at cellular and molecular level. These new insights may ultimately support new diagnostic approaches and therapeutic treatments.
By scanning the tissue slide using the Philips digital pathology system, which comprises of a scanner and image management system, the examining pathologist can gain direct access to the digital files and the work can be distributed more effectively among the available researchers. Cancer cells in the tissue can be identified and analysed quickly using advanced image analysis software for viewing, analysing and interpreting the images. It also becomes easier to share information and images with cancer research institutes all over the world.
At Erasmus MC, the changeover from analogue to digital will be made first in experimental research and pathology education, and is set to be followed by digital diagnostics over the coming years.