PLoS One 2019 20;14(2):e0212309. Epub 2019 Feb 20.
Department of Pathology, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.
The Ki-67 labeling index (LI) is an important prognostic factor in breast carcinoma. The Ki-67 LI is traditionally calculated via unaided microscopic estimation; however, inter-observer and intra-observer variability and low reproducibility are problems with this visual assessment (VA) method. For more accurate assessment and better reproducibility with Ki-67 LI, digital image analysis was introduced recently. We used both VA and automated digital image analysis (ADIA) (Ventana Virtuoso image management software) to estimate Ki-67 LI for 997 cases of breast carcinoma, and compared VA and ADIA results. VA and ADIA were highly correlated (intraclass correlation coefficient 0.982, and Spearman's correlation coefficient 0.966, p<0.05). We retrospectively analyzed cases with a greater than 5% difference between VA and ADIA results. The cause of these differences was: (1) tumor heterogeneity (98 cases, 56.0%), (2) VA interpretation error (32 cases, 18.3%), (3) misidentification of tumor cells (26 cases, 14.9%), (4) poor immunostaining or slide quality (16 cases, 9.1%), and (5) Estimation of non-tumor cells (3 cases, 1.7%). There were more discrepancies between VA and ADIA results in the group with a VA value of 10-20% compared to groups with <10% and ≥20%. Although ADIA is more accurate than VA, there are some limitations. Therefore, ADIA findings require confirmation by a pathologist.