DOI: 10.1111/cyt.13279 ISSN: 0956-5507

Delphi expert consensus for whole slide imaging in thyroid cytopathology

Stefano Marletta, Maria Salatiello, Liron Pantanowitz, Claudio Bellevicine, Massimo Bongiovanni, Emanuela Bonoldi, Gisele De Rezende, Guido Fadda, Paolo Incardona, Enrico Munari, Fabio Pagni, Esther Diana Rossi, Giovanni Tallini, Giancarlo Troncone, Clara Ugolini, Elena Vigliar, Albino Eccher
  • General Medicine
  • Histology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine



Despite an increase in thyroid fine needle aspiration (FNA) and advances in whole slide imaging (WSI) adoption, digital pathology is still considered inadequate for primary diagnosis of these cases. Herein, we aim to validate the utility of WSI in thyroid FNAs employing the Delphi method strategy.


A panel of experts from seven reference cytology centres was recruited. The study consisted of two consecutive rounds: (1) an open‐ended, free‐response questionnaire generating a list of survey items; and (2) a consensus analysis of 80 selected shared WSIs from 80 cases by six investigators answering six morphological questions utilising a 1 to 5 Likert scale.


High consensus was achieved for all parameters, with an overall average score of 4.27. The broad majority of items (84%) were ranked either 4 or 5 by each physician. Two badly scanned cases were responsible for more than half of the low‐ranked (≤2) values (57%). Good to excellent (≥3) diagnostic confidence was reached in more than 95.2% of cases. For most cases (78%) WSI assessment was not limited by technical issues linked to the image acquisition process.


This systematic Delphi study indicates broad consensus among participating physicians on the application of DP to thyroid cytopathology, supporting expert opinion that WSI is reliable and safe for primary diagnostic purposes.

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