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Inside the Lab Digital and computational pathology, Technology and innovation, Microscopy and imaging, Software and hardware

The Road to Augmented Pathology

As a cellular pathologist, Laszlo began his career at a time when the microscope required a table lamp as its external light source and a mirror on its base to make sense of histology and cytology slides. But thanks to relentless technological development, the field has evolved considerably in the space of just a single generation – and new technologies continue to make their mark in pathology today.

But what does the future hold for this precise specialty that uncovers the secrets behind human tissue? Pathology’s ultimate aim is to use imaging techniques to link what we see in the tissue with what we know about disease so that we can diagnose our patients and recommend the most effective treatments.

To do this successfully, information is key. We interrogate tissue to reveal any underlying information that contributes to identification of the disease or neoplasm. But there is one major constraint: we can only examine tissue taken from a single point in the course of a disease, removed from its environment, and frozen in time. The resulting sample represents only a minuscule portion of an organ or tissue. A frozen section is a tissue wafer no more than 2.5 cm in diameter and approximately 3-4 μm thick, or half the diameter of a red blood cell. It’s no wonder that, with this alone to go on, we can’t always find the answers we seek.

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About the Authors

Laszlo Igali

Consultant Histopathologist at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Norwich, UK.


Ferenc Igali

Lead Technician of the School of Education, Faculty of Social Science at the University of Sheffield, UK.

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