Consultation by subspecialty experts is the most common mode of rendering diagnosis in challenging cases in pathological practice. Our study aimed to highlight the diagnostic benefits of whole-slide image (WSI)-based remote consultation. We obtained diagnostically challenging cases from two institutions from the years 2010 and 2013, with histological diagnoses that contained keywords “probable,” “suggestive,” “suspicious,” “inconclusive,” and “uncertain.” A total of 270 cases were selected for remote consultation using WSIs scanned at 40 ×. The consultation process consisted of three rounds: the first and second rounds each with 12 subspecialty experts and the third round with six multi-expertise senior pathologists. The first consultation yielded 44% concordance, and a change in diagnosis occurred in 56% of cases. The most frequent change was from inconclusive to definite diagnosis (30%), followed by minor discordance (14%), and major discordance (12%). Out of the 70 cases which reached the second round, 31 cases showed discrepancy between the two consultants. For these 31 cases, a consensus diagnosis was provided by six multi-expertise senior pathologists. Combining all WSI-based consultation rounds, the original inconclusive diagnosis was changed in 140 (52%) out of 266 cases. Among these cases, 80 cases (30%) upgraded the inconclusive diagnosis to a definite diagnosis, and 60 cases (22%) changed the diagnosis with major or minor discordance, accounting for 28 cases (10%) and 32 cases (12%), respectively. We observed significant improvement in the pathological diagnosis of difficult cases by remote consultation using WSIs, which can further assist in patient healthcare. A post-study survey highlighted various benefits of WSI-based consults.
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