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Whole Slide Scanner: The Next Big Step for Pathology?

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The global Whole Slide Scanner Market is expected to surpass USD 506.0 million by 2030, expanding at a CAGR of 5.5% during the forecast period, 2022–2030. This growth is attributed to the increasing use of WSI for various clinical and nonclinical uses.

What is Whole Slide Imaging (WSI)?

WSI is also known as virtual microscopy. It is the process of scanning a complete microscope slide and creating a high-resolution digital file using small high-resolution image strips or tiles and montaging them together to create a full image. It is also known as digital pathology.

There are two types of WSI

  • WSI software 
  • WSI hardware

How did the coronavirus outbreak influence the whole slide imaging market progression?

Due to the sudden outbreak of coronavirus, the WSI market had a positive progression due to the increased use of the WSI technology that allows researchers to evaluate the reason behind the spread of COVID-19 and its’ effects. The WSI technique provides high-resolution images that allow researchers to visualize and evaluate the damage to tissues and cells. 

Benefits of Whole Slide Imaging:

  • It enables many tissues slides to be scanned at the same time
  • WSI helps to reduce the time for searching and viewing for an optimal area of a particular tissue slide under the microscope
  • It also enables easy and instantaneous data sharing 
  • It offers efficient data storage and fast image acquisition
  • Whole slide scanning with multiple scanning modes enables researchers to clearly see the different details of the samples. 

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What are the essential components of a WSI scanner?

Whole Slide Scanner varies in many hardware capacities, including scan speed, slide capacity, slide throughput, slide loading/handling, optics, and image modalities supported. In recent years, the demand for WSI scanners has increased for better and errorless output.

WSI consists of two processes. The first process utilizes glass scanners to digitize glass slides, which generates a large representative digital image which is also called a digital slide or virtual slide.

The second process provides specialized software (virtual slide viewer) that can view and/or analyze enormous digital files. Digitalized whole slide images are easily annotated and analyzed via a variety of algorithms.

What are the current limitations of WSI?

There are several barriers that are limiting the adoption of WSI such as limited technology, image quality, and problems with scanning materials like cytology slides which may contain cell groups that can cause difficulties in scanning.

High investment in procurement and maintenance of advanced technology of WSI is one of the major limitations of WSI. The lack of skilled laborers to handle these technologies for better outcomes can put limitations on the adoption of WSI.  

Innovative Digital Imaging Solutions in Pathology

  • All specimens are barcoded to reduce the chance of misidentification.
  • Researchers are using AI to create algorithms for use in high-resolution image analysis for medical purposes.
  • Computational Pathology (CPATH) performs counting and basic measurements for digital imaging.  
  • Increasing use of WSI in surgical pathology for quality assurance 

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Applications of WSI: 

  • Increased clinical use of whole slide imaging in research institutes, pharmaceutical companies, and medical centers.
  • This technique is widely used in cancer treatment to analyze larger areas to detect malignant cells or mutations in other tissue cells
  • WSI continues to gain traction among pathologists for educational, diagnostic, and research purposes.

Key Insights:

  • The recent approval of US FDA to a WSI system for use in primary surgical pathology diagnosis has opened avenues for wider acceptance and application of whole slide imaging solutions in routine practice.
  • Key players in the market are adopting new technological advancements in whole slide imaging including 3DHISTECH Ltd., Akoya Biosciences, Inc., Carl Zeiss AG, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, Grundium Ltd, Hamamatsu Photonics K.K., Huron Digital Pathology, and others.
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