Journal of Pathology Informatics

: 2020  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 36-

Reproducible color gamut of hematoxylin and eosin stained images in standard color spaces

Wei- Chung Cheng 
 Division of Imaging, Diagnostics, and Software Reliability, Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Wei- Chung Cheng
10903 New Hampshire Ave, Silver Spring, MD 20993-0002

A whole-slide imaging (WSI) system is a digital color imaging system used in digital pathology with the potential to substitute the conventional light microscope. A WSI system digitalizes a glass slide by converting the optical image to digital data with a scanner and then converting the digital data back to the optical image with a display. During the digital-to-optical or optical-to-digital conversion, a color space is required to define the mapping between the digital domain and the optical domain so that the numerical data of each color pixel can be interpreted meaningfully. Unfortunately, many current WSI products do not specify the designated color space clearly, which leaves the user using the universally default color space, sRGB. sRGB is a legacy color space that has a limited color gamut, which is known to be unable to reproduce all color shades present in histology slides. In this work, experiments were conducted to quantitatively investigate the limitation of the sRGB color space used in WSI systems. Eight hematoxylin and eosin (H and E)-stained tissue samples, including human bladder, brain, breast, colon, kidney, liver, lung, and uterus, were measured with a multispectral imaging system to obtain the true colors at the pixel level. The measured color truth of each pixel was converted into the standard CIELAB color space to test whether it was within the color gamut of the sRGB color space. Experiment results show that all the eight images have a portion of pixels outside the sRGB color gamut. In the worst-case scenario, the bladder sample, about 35% of the image exceeded the sRGB color gamut. The results suggest that the sRGB color space is inadequate for WSI scanners to encode H and E-stained whole-slide images, and an sRGB display may have insufficient color gamut for displaying H and E-stained histology images.

How to cite this article:
Cheng WC. Reproducible color gamut of hematoxylin and eosin stained images in standard color spaces.J Pathol Inform 2020;11:36-36

How to cite this URL:
Cheng WC. Reproducible color gamut of hematoxylin and eosin stained images in standard color spaces. J Pathol Inform [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Jan 25 ];11:36-36
Available from:;year=2020;volume=11;issue=1;spage=36;epage=36;aulast=Cheng;type=0