Whole slide imaging (WSI) for digital pathology involves the rapid automated acquisition of multiple high-power fields from a microscope slide containing a tissue specimen. Capturing each field in the correct focal plane is essential to create high-quality digital images. Others have described a novel focusing method which reduces the number of focal planes required to generate accurate focus. However, this method was not applied dynamically in an automated WSI system under continuous motion.
This report measures the accuracy of this method when applied in a rapid continuous scan mode using a dual sensor WSI system with interleaved acquisition of images.
We acquired over 400 tiles in a “stop and go” scan mode, surveying the entire z depth in each tile and used this as ground truth. We compared this ground truth focal height to the focal height determined using a rapid 3-point focus algorithm applied dynamically in a continuous scanning mode.
Our data showed the average focal height error of 0.30 (±0.27) μm compared to ground truth, which is well within the system's depth of field. On a tile by tile assessment, approximately 95% of the tiles were within the system's depth of field. Further, this method was six times faster than acquiring tiles compared to the same method in a non-continuous scan mode.
The data indicates that the method employed can yield a significant improvement in scan speed while maintaining highly accurate autofocusing.