Digital Pathology: The Basis for Effective and Efficient Handling of Biological Samples and Slides

Blood, swabs (e.g., Pap smears), tissue samples – countless biological samples are taken daily around the globe for analysis under the microscope. Mainly, for classical clinical application with bright field microscopy after histological staining.

Thanks to scanning solutions, the processes for effectively and efficiently capturing, diagnosing, analyzing, and organizing the samples are immensely simplified. With the scanning and subsequent digital image processing of the samples, the entire range of advantages that digitalization brings with it, become apparent: Remote and progress diagnostics, long-term storage... and much more. Various disciplines, such as hematology, gynecology, or histology, profit decisively from this progress. Even clinical research (e.g., tumor research), where often fluorescence dyed specimens are used, profit from the possibilities of digital slide scanning.

In the scanning systems, motion and positioning solutions for slides and optics play an important role. High speeds when scanning are required to make the system economical, high precision in the motion is significant for the quality of the images and thus for the quality of the diagnostic findings. A dynamic positioning of the objective that is in line with the requirements is also very important for the image quality.

With its solutions, PI supports systems that are based on the step-and-settle method as well as systems that work in the fly-over mode, i.e., they continuously scan slides. In the latter method, the objective is moved along the optical axis with harmonic oscillation (wobbling). Typically, three images are taken per location with varying focus distance. Smart imaging methods then determine the sharpest of the images. In this way, e.g., wedge errors of sample holders and other typical error sources can be eliminated.

PI sets new standards again and again with its wide range of highly dynamic motion and positioning solutions working with nanometer precision. Equipment developers can choose from a great number of specialized products such as the V-308 objective scanner (voice coil) and P-725 (lever-amplified piezo drives), precision axes and directly driven XY stages (V-738), or ultrasonic XY stages (U-780) for moving the slides. It is also possible to configure completely integrated solutions (X/Y/Z incl. rotation) with an overall control electronics.

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