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Subspecialties Imaging & Diagnostics, Professional Development, Basic & Translational Research

Drillers Versus Scanners

Diagnosing from medical images has become much easier in the digital age – and whole-slide images can offer gains in both processing and accuracy. But what is the most effective visual technique for evaluating slides in the digital realm – scanning the XY plane or “drilling” by zooming in and out of the Z plane?

A group of researchers tracked eye movements to compare how pathologists and radiologists visually assess breast pathology slides – and established that, whereas pathologists gain their critical diagnostic information primarily from scanning, radiologists prefer drilling to interrogate critical features (1).

They also found that pathologists’ scanning rates correlate with higher diagnostic accuracy, but further work is needed to determine whether there is a causal relationship between scanning rate and accuracy. These findings add to our knowledge of how visual search behaviors affect tissue screening moving forward in our increasingly digital world.

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  1. T Drew et al., J Vis, 21, 7 (2021). PMID: 34636845.
About the Author
Geoffrey Potjewyd

Associate Editor, The Ophthalmologist

The lion’s share of my PhD was spent in the lab, and though I mostly enjoyed it (mostly), what I particularly liked was the opportunity to learn about the latest breakthroughs in research. Communicating science to a wider audience allows me to scratch that itch without working all week only to find my stem cell culture has given up the ghost on the Friday (I’m not bitter). Fortunately for me, it turns out writing is actually fun – so by working for Texere I get to do it every day, whilst still being an active member of the clinical and research community.

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