The interest of virtual microscopy as a means of simulation learning in pathological anatomy and cytology


Author(s): Dhouha Bacha, Wael Ferjaoui*, Lamia Charfi, Salsabil Rejaibi, Lassad Gharbi, Sana ben Slama, Leila Njim and Ahlem Lahmar

Introduction: The interest of Virtual Microscopy (VM) as a means of simulation learning in Pathological Anatomy and Cytology (PCA) is growing continuously. Its value for the acquisition of skills related to this discipline and the degree of satisfaction of learners have long been compared to those of the conventional method, using Optical Microscopy (OM). The results are conflicting, highlighting the limited use of VM in the daily practice of teaching PCA. The objective of our work was to compare the learning of general pathological anatomy by MV to that by MO, in terms of skills acquisition and levels of student satisfaction. Methods: Prospective study, involving 45 Students Of Second Cycle Of Medical Studies (SCMS), in pathological anatomy internship. Ten histological slides were analysed in OM for 21 students and in VM for 24 students, for a period of 10 days. The choice of the learning method was made by lot. The same trainer demonstrated the slides, each group separately, using either OM or VM. An assessment of the acquisition of knowledge was carried out using multiple choice questions on the same lesions but illustrated by 15 photos. An assessment of the degree of satisfaction of externs with the learning method used was based on a questionnaire using 6 items and the 4-choice Likert scale. Three items focused on convenience and three on Intrinsic Motivation (IM) of learners. The Mann Whitney nonparametric test for independent samples was thus used to compare the means between the two groups. Results: Regarding the acquisition of knowledge, the marks varied from 8 to 15, with a median of 13/15, for each of the 2 groups. There was no significant difference between the means obtained for each group (respectively 12.67 +/- 0.48 for the OM and 12.75 +/- 0.391 for the VM, p=0.935). Regarding the degree of satisfaction, a statistically significant difference was noted between the 2 groups for each of the 6 items tested. The overall convenience score was significantly better for the VM (p=0.001), whereas for the overall IM score there was no significant difference between the 2 groups (p=0.297). Conclusion: The performance of the VM is comparable to that of the OM. Taking into consideration its best convenience, VM could serve as an alternative tool to OM in teaching students' general pathological anatomy, although it does not fully satisfy their IM.

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Editors List

  • Prof. Elhadi Miskeen

    Obstetrics and Gynaecology Faculty of Medicine, University of Bisha, Saudi Arabia

  • Ahmed Hussien Alshewered

    University of Basrah College of Medicine, Iraq

  • Sudhakar Tummala

    Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering SRM University – AP, Andhra Pradesh




  • Alphonse Laya

    Supervisor of Biochemistry Lab and PhD. students of Faculty of Science, Department of Chemistry and Department of Chemis


  • Fava Maria Giovanna


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