Digital morphology analyzers in hematology: ICSH review and recommendations

Authors & Contributors

Alexander Kratz, Szu-hee Lee, Gina Zini, Jurgen A. Riedl, Mina Hur, Sam Machin

First Published

02 May 2019

Publisher

Wiley

DOI

Abstract

Introduction
Morphological assessment of the blood smear has been performed by conventional manual microscopy for many decades. Recently, rapid progress in digital imaging and information technology has led to the development of automated methods of digital morphological analysis of blood smears.

Methods
A panel of experts in laboratory hematology reviewed the literature on the use of digital imaging and other strategies for the morphological analysis of blood smears. The strengths and weaknesses of digital imaging were determined, and recommendations on improvement were proposed.

Results
By preclassifying cells using artificial intelligence algorithms, digital image analysis automates the blood smear review process and enables faster slide reviews. Digital image analyzers also allow remote networked laboratories to transfer images rapidly to a central laboratory for review, and facilitate a variety of essential work functions in laboratory hematology such as consultations, digital image archival, libraries, quality assurance, competency assessment, education, and training. Different instruments from several manufacturers are available, but there is a lack of standardization of staining methods, optical magnifications, color and display characteristics, hardware, software, and file formats.

Conclusion
In order to realize the full potential of Digital Morphology Hematology Analyzers, pre-analytic, analytic, and postanalytic parameters should be standardized. Manufacturers of new instruments should focus on improving the accuracy of cell preclassifications, and the automated recognition and classification of pathological cell types. Cutoffs for grading morphological abnormalities should depend on clinical significance. With all current devices, a skilled morphologist remains essential for cell reclassification and diagnostic interpretation of the blood smear.

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