Automated flow-based analyzers can perform a white blood cell (WBC) differential, count red cells, WBCs and platelets, and measure parameters such as hemoglobin concentration. However, preparation and review of a blood smear microscope slide is essential for a wide range of samples processed by flow-based analyzers. Manually viewing blood films on a glass microscope slide is tedious and time consuming, especially in laboratories facing high volume testing. Digital cell image analysis systems provide the solution. Digital imaging applications in hematology include complete blood count (CBC) white blood cell (WBC) count, differential count, WBC differential automation, proficiency and competency testing, remote diagnostics and hematology education.
Digital cell morphology in hematology enhances lab productivity by resolving issues such as staffing challenges, high costs, long turnaround times, and workflow disruptions. Digital hematology analyzers use state-of-the-art image-processing and pattern-recognition technology for automated digital cell differential analysis of stained slides. Results are presented on a wide-screen monitor. This allows remote, real-time review of smears. The images are archived for a second review if needed and for comparison with previous or subsequent results.
An article published in MLO clearly explains the advantages offered by digital analysis of the WBC differential:
- The technologist does not have to prepare slides and locate cells
- Cells can be manipulated in the monitor to confirm or reclassify the identity of 100 or more WBCs
- Controls application of blood on the microscope slide and staining of the cells for improved consistency and accuracy of cell classification
- High-speed computing technology has the potential to raise the precision of the differential count
- In addition to WBC, the system can capture and display images of red cells, platelets, reticulocytes, and even circulating tumor cells on the monitor
Once the automated results are reviewed for definitive classification on a monitor by a qualified medical technologist, they can be released to the laboratory information system (LIS).
When it comes to cell image analysis for the hematology, the EasyCell assistant from Medica Corporation is an excellent example of an efficient system for use in hospitals and clinical laboratories. This analyzer improves productivity by automatically locating 100 or 200 white cells on a blood smear and pre-classifying them on a display, grouped by cell type. Images of red cells and platelets for performance of red cell morphology and platelet estimate are also displayed. Its quality control system is designed to ensure accurate performance. This system also offers walk-away operation – the technologist simply has to load the slides in the system for immediate results. By reducing the time required to perform manual differentials, the EasyCell also helps lower costs quite significantly.