The White Box

23 07 2010

Here in the Albany Med Pathology Department we maintain what’s called ‘The White Box’.  This box (which is actually gray, IRL) is for interesting cases that pop up during sign-out that are great, but not worthy of our weekly Uknowns conference.  It’s a great resource when you have some down-time, and the breadth of entities that cruise across the stages here at AMC is pretty amazing.

I’m sure most, if not all, programs have a similar box, or tray, or drawer, etc. available for their residents, but I have taken on a small project here to digitize and catalog the cases for easier retrieval, and, possibly, for online slide box publication.  So far, I’ve just been filing all the cases in a small folder on one of our servers, with an associated Excel spreadsheet containing case information and links to the images.  While I am user of the BioImagene-sponsored PathXChange, I’ve been keeping it local so far.

The two major problems I’ve run into so far are: 1)time and 2) support.  I can’t possibly maintain the database and image acquisition myself.  On any given week, 20-40 cases go through the box, and even if I tried my hardest, I don’t think I could maintain that pace.  I would love to have some help, but my coworkers are all as busy as I am, so that seems unlikely.  In addition, it seems that the creation of associated educational blurbs (a la Hopkins Unknowns Website), was not well received by the attendings here either (due to the same time constraint issue).

So, I guess the W-Box will never take off here to become a nationally or world-renown Mecca of pathologic entities and teaching sets, but it is still a fun hobby and a great way to build up a personal collection that I can tote around on a thumb drive instead of a steamer trunk full of brittle glass…

UPDATE:  I think it’s interesting how other people choose to share their cases online as well.  As you can see, on the right side panel, I have a Flickr page that I’ve posted some interesting cases to.  In addition there are a few Twitter Feeds that I follow that post cases and there’s at least two Facebook pages that have unknown-type photo albums.  I think that is REALLY cool.  Granted, it results in some fragmentation, but I like it because, ultimately, the more options you have at your disposal, the better off you are, imho.

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