Imaging technology for advanced NHS regional digital pathology network

Leeds Teaching Hospitals is the first in a collaboration of NHS trusts to go live with the Sectra picture archiving and communication system, paving the way for one of the most sophisticated interconnected digital pathology initiatives in the world.

A multimillion-pound initiative that is digitising, connecting and applying artificial intelligence to NHS pathology services in the north of England has taken an important step, after The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust became the first of an initial six trusts in the Northern Pathology Imaging Cooperative (NPIC) to deploy a technology that will underpin the regional programme. Leeds Teaching Hospitals went live with the Sectra picture archiving and communication system (PACS) in October – allowing pathology images to be interrogated by professionals electronically from a range of devices. With many pathology departments

across the country still reliant on microscopes and glass slides, the new system is allowing pathologists to work more quickly, gain easier access to opinions from colleagues, and manage rising demand. Greater benefits are expected as

more hospitals in the NPIC go live with

the system into 2021. The programme is part of a £17 million partnership between industry, the NHS and academia, funded by UK Research and Innovation and industry partners to connect pathology services across the region using technology. This will lead to the full digitisation of NHS laboratories covering a population of three million people, allowing hospitals to pool resources, balance workload, and enable easier access to specialists across the region whose expertise may be needed quickly to make a clinical diagnosis. Trusts to follow Leeds will include

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, The

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, and Airedale NHS Foundation Trust. Dr Darren Treanor, NPIC’s director, and a practising pathologist at The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Leeds is the first of our six sites to go fully digital. Collectively, we are modernising our pathology services to become among the most advanced and interconnected anywhere in the world, and we hope to share our experience to help others across the NHS and beyond.” The project will also see the consortium deliver a Vendor Neutral Archive from Sectra. This will allow the trusts to pool imaging and build a platform for artificial intelligence crucial to improving diagnoses for cancers and other illnesses.

Jane Rendall, UK managing director for Sectra, one of the NPIC industry partners, said: “Digital pathology is about far more than replacing microscopes with computers. It’s about fundamentally changing how pathology services can be configured across regions and across the country, so that patients can receive faster diagnoses, services can become more intelligent, and the NHS can make best use of its valuable pathologists. NPIC is at the forefront of this transformation.”

Invasive aspergillosis screening in critical care patients

An Aspergillus galactomannan lateral- flow assay (LFA) has been recommended by the European Confederation of Medical Microbiology (ECMM) as a screening device in ventilated patients. With the emergence of COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there has been a marked increase in patients being admitted into intensive care units (ICU) and particularly those requiring invasive ventilation. In light of this, new guidance has been provided by the ECMM for the diagnosis and management of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and/or ICU treatment under mechanical ventilation due to suspected pneumonia. The ECMM specifically

recommends the use of IMMY’s Aspergillus GM LFA, both as part of the initial microbiological


diagnostic pathway in all ICU and/or ARDS ventilation patients, and also in the continual, tri-weekly screening programme for SARS-CoV-2- and influenza A/B-positive patients. Available from Alpha Laboratories,

the Aspergillus GM LFA is an immunochromatographic test system for the qualitative detection of Aspergillus galactomannan in serum and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) samples, providing a simple, rapid diagnosis of

invasive aspergillosis, an opportunistic fungal infection caused by species of the Aspergillus genus. The Aspergillus GM LFA works

synergistically with other procedures such as microbiological culture, biopsy histological examination and radiographic evidence, combining to aid in the diagnosis of aspergillosis. It is easy to use, and provides high sensitivity, specificity and a rapid 30-minute test time, eliminating the need for batch testing and speeding up the results.

The sona LFA Cube Reader simplifies the assessment of the intensity of the appearing lines, and is intended to be used as an aid in the interpretation of results of the Aspergillus GM LFA.


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