Anatomy and Art

a blog by Sara Egner

Histological Visualization

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Perusing through some news today I found a few articles siting new software that is bringing 3D visualization into the histological realm.  Basically they are taking histological slides and using the same type of algorithms that CT and MRI use to generate 3D images that can be moved about in space and studied.

Reading these, I was really surprised to hear that such a thing hadn’t already existed.  It seems like something that you could do with Mimics honestly.  But I suppose it was the actual data collection at the microscopic level that wasn’t quite available.  Without a scanner doing the registration for you, one is left with having to work out each individual slide’s relationship to the next, and that could certainly eat up some time.  But Dr. Derek Magee at the University of Leeds seems to have found a good way of handling that.  So the person using his software scans in prepared slides, and the alignment happens automatically and a 3D image is presented.

I find it puzzling that these articles about the technology keep referring to the scanners as “virtual slide scanners.”  It doesn’t sound like there is anything “virtual” about them aside from the end result they produce of allowing a virtual 3D image.  Every description seems to talk about an actual physical slide being scanned for digital information.  That sounds like a scanner to me.  But I leave that one up to any of you reading to decipher whether you think I’m just missing something, or someone early on was quoted while trying to push technological buzzwords.  In my experience, either of those things could easily be true.

The work has been published in The American Journal of Pathology but is also discussed in these articles.

*image above is from a traditionally prepared histological slide*

Written by Sara

May 6th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

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