Using a visual discrimination model for the detection of compression artifacts in virtual pathology images

Jeffrey P. Johnson, Elizabeth A. Krupinski, Michelle Yan, Hans Roehrig, Anna R. Graham, Ronald S. Weinstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


A major issue in telepathology is the extremely large and growing size of digitized virtual slides, which can require several gigabytes of storage and cause significant delays in data transmission for remote image interpretation and interactive visualization by pathologists. Compression can reduce this massive amount of virtual slide data, but reversible (lossless) methods limit data reduction to less than 50%, while lossy compression can degrade image quality and diagnostic accuracy. Visually lossless compression offers the potential for using higher compression levels without noticeable artifacts, but requires a rate-control strategy that adapts to image content and loss visibility. We investigated the utility of a visual discrimination model (VDM) and other distortion metrics for predicting JPEG 2000 bit rates corresponding to visually lossless compression of virtual slides for breast biopsy specimens. Threshold bit rates were determined experimentally with human observers for a variety of tissue regions cropped from virtual slides. For test images compressed to their visually lossless thresholds, just-noticeable difference (JND) metrics computed by the VDM were nearly constant at the 95th percentile level or higher, and were significantly less variable than peak signal-to-noise ratio (PSNR) and structural similarity (SSIM) metrics. Our results suggest that VDM metrics could be used to guide the compression of virtual slides to achieve visually lossless compression while providing 512 times the data reduction of reversible methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5582290
Pages (from-to)306-314
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Compression
  • just noticeable differences
  • virtual pathology slides
  • visual discrimination model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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