Whole-slide imaging and virtual microscopy are useful tools implemented in the routine pathology workflow in the last 10 years, allowing primary diagnosis or second-opinions (telepathology) and demonstrating a substantial role in multidisciplinary meetings and education. The regulatory approval of this technology led to the progressive digitalization of routine pathological practice. Previous experiences on renal biopsies stressed the need to create integrate networks to share cases for diagnostic and research purposes. In the current paper, we described a virtual lab studying the routine renal biopsies that have been collected from 14 different Italian Nephrology centers between January 2014 and December 2019. For each case, light microscopy (LM) and immunofluorescence (IF) have been processed, analysed and scanned. Additional pictures (eg. electron micrographs) along with the final encrypted report were uploaded on the web-based platform. The number and type of specimens processed for every technique, the provisional and final diagnosis, and the turnaround-time (TAT) have been recorded. Among 826 cases, 4.5% were second opinion biopsies and only 4% were suboptimal/inadequate for the diagnosis. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) has been performed on 41% of cases, in 22% changing the final diagnosis, in the remaining 78% contributed to the better definition of the disease. For light microscopy and IF the median TAT was of 2 working days, with only 8.6% with a TAT longer than 5 days. For TEM, the average TAT was 26 days (IQR 6-64). In summary, we systematically reviewed the 6-years long nephropathological experience of an Italian renal pathology service, where digital pathology is a definitive standard of care for the routine diagnosis of glomerulonephritides.
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