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Digital Tools for Collecting Data from Cervigrams for Research and Training in Colposcopy
Colposcopy is a critical part of gynecologic practice but has documented deficiencies, including lack of correlation between the colposcopic appearance and the severity of underlying neoplasia, limited reproducibility, and difficulty in the optimal placement of colposcopically directed biopsies. In a collaborative effort to improve colposcopy, we are analyzing digitized cervigram images from National Cancer Institute-funded studies. Specifically, the National Cancer Institute has collected close to 100,000 cervigrams, digitized to create a database of images of the uterine cervix for research, training, and education. In addition to the cervigram images, this database contains clinical, cytologic, and molecular information at multiplee xaminations of 15,000 women, with password and ID labeling strategies to protect patient privacy. The National Library of Medicine has designed two web-accessible software tools. The Boundary Marking Tool allows experts on colposcopy to perform an evaluation of the pictures and to mark boundary regions of normal and abnormal regions of the uterine cervix; these evaluations are collected and saved in the database. The Multimedia Database Tool enables retrieval of test and image biomedical data according to specific queries, for example, all women with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 3 whose cytologic results are atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance. The resource soon will be available as an open resource, via a teaching tool coordinated by a database manager, which will permit a variety of applications for teaching and research. In this article, we describe the perceived need for the resource and its components.