Digital morphology compared to the optical microscope: A validation study on reporting bone marrow aspirates

Gina Zini Tanzi, Patrizia Chiusolo, E. Rossi, Enrico Di Stasio, Silvia Bellesi, T. Za, Marcello Viscovo, Filippo Frioni, Francesco Ramundo, Nicoletta Pelliccioni, Valerio De Stefano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Introduction: This study aims to evaluate the effectiveness and reliability of the utilization for clinical reporting of the evaluation of digital images of bone marrow aspirates by morphologists and their comparability with the classic microscopic morphological evaluation. Methods: We scanned 180 consecutive bone marrow needle aspirates smears using the “Metafer4 VSlide” whole slide imaging (WSI) digital scanning system. We evaluated the statistical comparability and the risk of bias of the microscopic readings with those performed on the screen on the digitized medullary images. Results: The evaluation of cellularity on the screen was equivalent, with a higher frequency of “normal” than the analysis of digital preparations. The means and medians of the percentage values obtained on the different cell populations with the microscopic and digital reading were comparable as the main categories are concerned, with an average difference equal to 0 for the neutrophilic and eosinophilic granulocytic series, at −0.2% for the total myeloid cells, at 1.2% for the erythroid series, at −0.4% for the lymphocytes and at −0.4% for the blasts. Dysplastic features were consistently identified in 69/71 cell lineages. Conclusion: Our study demonstrated that screen evaluation of digitized bone marrow needle aspirates provides quantitative and qualitative results comparable to traditional microscopic analysis of the corresponding slide smears. Digital images offer significant benefits in reducing the workload of experienced operators, reproducibility and sharing of observations, and image preservation. Even in routine diagnostic activities, their use does not alter the quality of the results obtained in evaluating bone marrow needle aspirates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)N/A-N/A
JournalInternational Journal of Laboratory Hematology
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • bone marrow
  • digital morphology
  • general hematology
  • laboratory practice


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