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Telepathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology: A Retrospective Review of Consultations From 1996 to 1997.
Context.— Telepathology is the practice of pathology at a distance, transmitting images using telecommunication methods for second opinion and/or diagnostic assistance, or for educational purposes. It may be the only means of consultation for some pathologists.
Objective.— To retrospectively review and evaluate a subset of telepathology consultations from June 1996 to March 1997, and to determine the concordance between the telepathology diagnosis of the contributor and pathologists at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), Washington, District of Columbia, as well as the concordance between the telepathology diagnosis and the glass slide diagnosis, when available.
Design.— Photocopies of de-identified telepathology reports from the AFIP during a 15-month period between June 1996 and March 1997 were reviewed. Contributor versus telepathology diagnosis was graded as 1 (complete agreement), 2 (partial agreement), 3 (disagreement; usually a diagnosis of benign versus malignant), and deferred. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistical methods.
Results.— Of the 262 cases, 194 (74%) were in complete agreement with the contributor's diagnosis, 34 of 262 (13%) were in minor disagreement, and 21 of 262 (8%) were in major disagreement. Diagnoses were deferred in 5% (13 of 262) of cases.
Conclusions.— Using commercial off-the-shelf technology and despite telecommunication challenges during that time, the AFIP demonstrated that telepathology could be conducted reliably.