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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the 10th European Congress on Telepathology and 4th International Congress on Virtual Microscopy

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Quality evaluation of virtual slides using methods based on comparing common image areas

Slawomir Walkowski1* and Janusz Szymas2

Author affiliations

1 Faculty of Computing Science and Management, Poznan University of Technology, Poznan, Poland

2 Department of Clinical Pathology, University of Medical Sciences, Poznan, Poland

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Citation and License

Diagnostic Pathology 2011, 6(Suppl 1):S14  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-6-S1-S14

Published: 30 March 2011



There are many scanners of glass slides on the market now. Quality of digital images produced by them may be different and pathologists who examine virtual slides on a monitor may subjectively evaluate it. However, objective comparison of quality of digital slides captured by various devices requires assessment algorithms, which will be automatically executed.


In this work such an algorithm is proposed and implemented. It is dedicated for comparing quality of virtual slides which show the same glass slide captured by two or more scanners. In the first step this method looks for the largest corresponding areas in the slides. This task is realized by defining boundaries of tissues and providing the relative scale factor. Then, a certain number of smaller areas, which show the same fragments of both slides, is selected. The chosen fragments are analyzed using Gray Level Co-occurrence Matrix (GLCM). For GLCM matrices some of the Haralick features are calculated, like contrast or entropy. Basing on results for some sample images, features appropriate for quality assessment are chosen. Aggregation of values from all selected fragments allows to compare the quality of images captured by tested devices.


Described method was tested on two sets of ten virtual slides, acquired by scanning the same set of ten glass slides by two different devices. First set was scanned and digitized using the robotic microscope Axioscope2 (Zeiss) equipped with AxioCam Hrc CCD camera. Second set was scanned by DeskScan (Zeiss) with standard equipment. Before analyzing captured virtual slides, images were stitched and converted using software which utilizes advances in aerial and satellite imaging.

The results of the experiment show that calculated quality factors are higher for virtual slides acquired using first mentioned device (Axioscope2 with AxioCam).


Results of the tests are consistent with opinion of the pathologists who assessed quality of virtual slides captured by these devices. This shows that the method has potential in automatic evaluation of virtual slides’ quality.