FaceTime validation study: Low-cost streaming video for cytology adequacy assessment

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Adequacy assessment for fine-needle aspiration procedures is a standard of care in large medical centers. Although the benefits of this approach include higher adequacy rates with fewer passes, it costs cytopathologist time and affects other clinical responsibilities. The objective of the current study was to evaluate the use of mobile video streaming (FaceTime) technology with the help of smartphone adapters attached to microscopes for remote adequacy assessment of cytologic samples.


The study consisted of 2 phases: Phase 1 was a retrospective assessment of 25 samples by a primary pathologist with simultaneous streaming to a second pathologist using a smartphone (iPhone/iPad) FaceTime connection. Data on the adequacy of each sample and preliminary diagnoses were recorded. In phase 2, live cases were assessed prospectively by an onsite primary pathologist and by a remote pathologist using an iPhone/iPad-FaceTime connection. The testing phase involved prospective assessment of additional samples with a resident or cytotechnologist as the slide driver.


In phase 1, retrospective evaluation of 25 samples yielded considerable agreement (22 of 25 samples; 88%) between onsite and remote adequacy assessments. Three samples (12%) yielded results that did not agree, including 2 samples that were read as adequate in the onsite evaluation that were assessed as indeterminate using FaceTime. In phase 2 and in the testing phase, 14 samples exhibited considerable agreement on both adequacy and preliminary diagnosis (6 samples in phase 2 and 8 samples in the testing phase) and are currently available for reporting. Problems encountered include software version standardization, camera alignment, and (rarely) comprehension of the audio stream.


The current data indicate that iPhone/iPad FaceTime technology can be used to perform remote adequacy assessments of fine-needle aspirations and can help save valuable time for pathologists. Cancer Cytopathol2016;124:213–220. © 2015 American Cancer Society.

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