Production and validation of durable, high quality standardized malaria microscopy slides for teaching, testing and quality assurance during an era of declining diagnostic proficiency
Sets of Giemsa-stained, blood smear slides with systematically verified composite diagnoses would contribute substantially to development of externally validated quality assurance systems for the microscopic diagnosis of malaria.
whole blood from Plasmodium -positive donors in Cambodia and Indonesia and individuals with no history of risk for malaria was collected. Using standard operating procedures, technicians prepared Giemsa-stained thick and thin smears from each donor. One slide from each of the first 35 donations was distributed to each of 28 individuals acknowledged by reputation as having expertise in the microscopic diagnosis of malaria. These reference readers recorded presence or absence of Plasmodium species and parasite density. A composite diagnosis for each donation was determined based on microscopic findings and species-specific small subunit ribosomal RNA (ssrRNA) DNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification.
More than 12, 000 slides were generated from 124 donations. Reference readers correctly identified presence of parasites on 85% of slides with densities <100 parasites/μl, which improved to 100% for densities >350 parasites/μl. Percentages of agreement with composite diagnoses were highest for Plasmodium falciparum (99%), followed by Plasmodium vivax (86%).
Herein, a standardized method for producing large numbers of consistently high quality, durable Giemsa-stained blood smears and validating composite diagnoses for the purpose of creating a malaria slide repository in support of initiatives to improve training and competency assessment amidst a background of variability in diagnosis is described.
Article: The use of fluorescence enhancement to improve the microscopic diagnosis of falciparum malaria.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Giemsa staining of thick blood smears remains the "gold standard" for detecting malaria. However, this method is not very good for diagnosing low-level infections. A method for the simultaneous staining of Plasmodium-parasitized culture and blood smears for both bright field and fluorescence was developed and its ability to improve detection efficiency tested. A total of 22 nucleic acid-specific fluorescent dyes were tested for their ability to provide easily observable staining of Plasmodium falciparum-parasitized red blood cells following Giemsa staining. Of the 14 dyes that demonstrated intense fluorescence staining, only SYBR Green 1, YOYO-1 and ethidum homodimer-2 could be detected using fluorescent microscopy, when cells were first stained with Giemsa. Giemsa staining was not effective when applied after the fluorescent dyes. SYBR Green 1 provided the best staining in the presence of Giemsa, as a very high percentage of the parasitized cells were simultaneously stained. When blood films were screened using fluorescence microscopy the parasites were more readily detectable due to the sharp contrast between the dark background and the specific, bright fluorescence produced by the parasites. The dual staining method reported here allows fluorescence staining, which enhances the reader's ability to detect parasites under low parasitaemia conditions, coupled with the ability to examine the same cell under bright field conditions to detect the characteristic morphology of Plasmodium species that is observed with Giemsa staining.Malaria Journal 02/2007; 6:89. · 3.19 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Viewing Plasmodium in Romanovsky-stained blood has long been considered the gold standard for diagnosis and a cornerstone in management of the disease. This method however, requires a subjective evaluation by trained, experienced diagnosticians and establishing proficiency of diagnosis is fraught with many challenges. Reported here is an evaluation of a diagnostic system (a "device" consisting of a microscope, a scanner, and a computer algorithm) that evaluates scanned images of standard Giemsa-stained slides and reports species and parasitaemia. The device was challenged with two independent tests: a 55 slide, expert slide reading test the composition of which has been published by the World Health Organization ("WHO55" test), and a second test in which slides were made from a sample of consenting subjects participating in a malaria incidence survey conducted in Equatorial Guinea (EGMIS test). These subjects' blood was tested by malaria RDT as well as having the blood smear diagnosis unequivocally determined by a worldwide panel of a minimum of six reference microscopists. Only slides with unequivocal microscopic diagnoses were used for the device challenge, n = 119. On the WHO55 test, the device scored a "Level 4" using the WHO published grading scheme. Broken down by more traditional analysis parameters this result was translated to 89% and 70% sensitivity and specificity, respectively. Species were correctly identified in 61% of the slides and the quantification of parasites fell within acceptable range of the validated parasitaemia in 10% of the cases. On the EGMIS test it scored 100% and 94% sensitivity/specificity, with 64% of the species correct and 45% of the parasitaemia within an acceptable range. A pooled analysis of the 174 slides used for both tests resulted in an overall 92% sensitivity and 90% specificity with 61% species and 19% quantifications correct. In its current manifestation, the device performs at a level comparable to that of many human slide readers. Because its use requires minimal additional equipment and it uses standard stained slides as starting material, its widespread adoption may eliminate the current uncertainty about the quality of microscopic diagnoses worldwide.Malaria Journal 05/2012; 11:155. · 3.19 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Several criteria have been used to assess agreement between replicate slide readings of malaria parasite density. Such criteria may be based on percent difference, or absolute difference, or a combination. Neither the rationale for choosing between these types of criteria, nor that for choosing the magnitude of difference which defines acceptable agreement, are clear. The current paper seeks a procedure which avoids the disadvantages of these current options and whose parameter values are more clearly justified. Variation of parasite density within a slide is expected, even when it has been prepared from a homogeneous sample. This places lower limits on sensitivity and observer agreement, quantified by the Poisson distribution. This means that, if a criterion of fixed percent difference criterion is used for satisfactory agreement, the number of discrepant readings is over-estimated at low parasite densities. With a criterion of fixed absolute difference, the same happens at high parasite densities. For an ideal slide, following the Poisson distribution, a criterion based on a constant difference in square root counts would apply for all densities. This can be back-transformed to a difference in absolute counts, which, as expected, gives a wider range of acceptable agreement at higher average densities. In an example dataset from Tanzania, observed differences in square root counts correspond to a 95% limits of agreement of -2,800 and +2,500 parasites/microl at average density of 2,000 parasites/microl, and -6,200 and +5,700 parasites/microl at 10,000 parasites/microl. However, there were more outliers beyond those ranges at higher densities, meaning that actual coverage of these ranges was not a constant 95%, but decreased with density. In a second study, a trial of microscopist training, the corresponding ranges of agreement are wider and asymmetrical: -8,600 to +5,200/microl, and -19,200 to +11,700/microl, respectively. By comparison, the optimal limits of agreement, corresponding to Poisson variation, are +/- 780 and +/- 1,800 parasites/microl, respectively. The focus of this approach on the volume of blood read leads to other conclusions. For example, no matter how large a volume of blood is read, some densities are too low to be reliably detected, which in turn means that disagreements on slide positivity may simply result from within-slide variation, rather than reading errors. The proposed method defines limits of acceptable agreement in a way which allows for the natural increase in variability with parasite density. This includes defining the levels of between-reader variability, which are consistent with random variation: disagreements within these limits should not trigger additional readings. This approach merits investigation in other settings, in order to determine both the extent of its applicability, and appropriate numerical values for limits of agreement.Malaria Journal 01/2010; 9:4. · 3.19 Impact Factor