Objective: In this study, the efficiency of telemedical consulting with regard to fine needle aspirates from space-occupying lesions (SOLs) of the liver is investigated for the first time. Study Design: The study includes fine needle aspirations from 62 patients, 33 with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and 29 with non-hepatic tumors. Using the Internet-based iPath system, the initial pathologist submitted 1-8 images from smears and cell block sections. One consultant assessed the cytological and another one the histological images. Both made their diagnoses independent of each other. A final diagnosis was made by immunochemistry of cell block sections. The cytological images were analyzed retrospectively for the occurrence of the most typical HCC indicators. The number of these indicators was related to the initial diagnoses of the three pathologists, and possible reasons for diagnostic errors were analyzed based on this analysis. Results: The accuracy of the preliminary telemedical diagnoses regarding HCC was 82.0% for the cytological images and 87.7% for the histological images. Most of the false diagnoses occurred in tumors with unusual cytological and histological patterns. Conclusions: Telemedical consulting is a valuable tool to obtain a second opinion. However, for improvement of the diagnosis of HCC, supplementary immunochemical tests are necessary.

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