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Computer-Controlled Machines for Pathology Slide Sorting and Cataloguing System

By Ramez Herrick, Andrew Huang, Sudeep Pillai and Marshall Sunshine


Final report for Team 11 of ME450, Fall 2008 semesterThe objective of these projects is to develop an opto-mechatronic system with optical scanning of bar codes and sample shapes as well as servomotors to automate the sorting and cataloguing of a collection of pathology glass slides and paraffin blocks. These machines are related to the reduction of human error using automation in healthcare. The UM hospital generates thousand of slides and hundreds of blocks per day, which must be correctly catalogued and filed away for future retrieval and reference. This manual process is very tedious and prone to errors due to its long duration and repetitive nature. Once a slide or block is incorrectly catalogued, it is virtually impossible to locate it again. Patients may need to provide additional tissue samples or errors may result with specimens from other patients. To realize this automation an embedded computer control and monitoring system will be used to drive a series of servo motors to move slides through the mechanical system, while sensors provide feedback to monitor its progression. Each slide is marked with a 2D-barcode, which must be scanned to determine the correct path through the system. Slides may have the incorrect orientation when entering the system for the barcode to be read and thus the orientation must be automatically corrected by the system. Once the slides have been catalogued, they must be ejected from the machine in a specified order into a specially designed receptacle compatible with a robotic storage system. The embedded system must utilize a connection to a network distributed SQL (Structured Query Language) database to record relevant slide and block information. Two machines, one for slides and another for blocks, have different requirements because the physical size and weight difference of slides and blocks. (This project is the slide sorting machine

Topics: ME450, Fall2008, Pathology, Slide Sorting
Year: 2008
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