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Telepathology is the use of telecommunication technologies to transmit digitized histological or macroscopic images between remote locations for diagnostic, prognostic, quality control, research and continuing education purposes.1 2

Telepathology is practised in two forms:
  • Interdisciplinary telepathology which involves a pathologist and another specialist (e.g. a radiologist)
  • Expert teleconsultations, which is usually between two pathologists.
Telepathology Station

Although applicable to all areas of pathology, telepathology’s main application has been in the area of histopathology. A histopathology system is made up a CCD or digital camera attached to a microscope with a computer (which should be able to connect to the Internet, have a good graphics card and software to manage the images).3


The above is a description of a simple telepathology system, which can either be static, dynamic or hybrid.4

  • Static Telepathology Systems: This involves the viewing of images that have been captured by a digitising program at the transmitting end. These images are usually compressed, stored and then transmitted electronically to a consultant.
  • Dynamic Telepathology Systems: This requires remotely controlled robotic microscopes and high-speed communication networks. The pathologist at the receiving end can move the slide and can a complete view of the tissue. The images transmitted are usually of high quality and tend to be what the receiving end pathologist wants to view, rather than having the transmitting end deciding which images to transmit.
  • Hybrid Telepathology Systems: This combines both static and dynamic telepathology. The dynamic part allows the pathologist to select a slide to view, which the static portion allows for the storing, editing and digitizing of the images.

Whatever the telepathology system being employed, its importance in patient management is underlined by the fact that it allows for faster diagnosis and consultations by remotely located pathologists.


  1. Kayser, Klaus.; Kayser, Gian.; Zink, Stefan. [WWW] New technical aspects in telepathology. http://ampat.amu.edu.pl/czasopis/ejp6-3/003-03.html (25TH September 2003).
  2. Mea, Della V. [WWW] Store-and-forward Telepathology. http://www.telemed.uniud.it/FVG/telstat.html (25TH September 2003).
  3. Lee, E. S.; et al. Practical telepathology using a digital camera and the Internet. Telemed J E Health. 2002 Summer;(8):159-65.
  4. Department of Veterans Affairs. [WWW] Types of Telepathology. http://www.va.gov/telepathvisn6/Types.htm (25TH September 2003).

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Last Updated: 10 August 2006.

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