New pathology service expands
frontiers of lab medicine
– A new pathology laboratory, located at the University Health Network,
aims to be the first hospital lab in Canada to use the Internet to
deliver world-leading pathology services in real-time to remote areas of
Dynamic telepathology refers to the delivery of pathology services at a
distance, using real time digital images obtained with a robotic
microscope that’s controlled by a pathologist over the Internet.
The technology links surgeons with pathologists during intraoperative
biopsies. While a patient is undergoing surgery in one hospital, a
pathologist at another hospital waits to receive and examine computer
images of the tissue sample. The results of these biopsies, which can be
communicated by the pathologist to the surgeon within minutes, play a
central role in determining how a given operation will proceed.
The technology is currently linking two UHN hospitals, Toronto General
and Toronto Western. Plans are under way to expand the service beyond
Toronto to other areas of the province, beginning in the northeast where
Toronto Medical Laboratories, which manages UHN’s laboratories, already
provides a range of services to 10 community hospitals.
Telepathology is expanding the frontiers of laboratory medicine by
allowing surgeons working in hospitals without an on-site pathologist to
perform operations that otherwise might not be possible, said UHN
pathologist Dr. Andrew Evans. “The great benefit to patients is that
they don’t have to travel to other centres for cancer-related surgery
and they have faster access to surgical care.”
UHN’s new Pathology Department also houses a level 3 containment autopsy
laboratory – the first of its kind in Canada – which provides protection
against the spread of infection during pathological investigations of
highly infectious diseases, such as SARS.
“This world-class facility makes it possible for pathologists to handle
infectious cases with greater comfort and, when needed, provide answers
rapidly and with confidence,” said Dr. Jagdish Butany, Director of
Autopsy, UHN. “Infections will be kept contained within the autopsy
laboratory, preventing further spread and ensuring patient and public
The new Pathology Department will allow expansion of the high-quality
diagnostic services UHN hospitals have access to, said Dr. Sylvia Asa
Pathologist-in-Chief, UHN and Medical Director, Toronto Medical
Laboratories. “We have every modern diagnostic modality available in our
hospitals. The innovations that we are highlighting today will allow us
to transform our healthcare system and provide access for patients not
just in Toronto, but across Ontario.”
University Health Network (UHN) is a major landmark in Canada’s
healthcare system, and a teaching partner of the University of Toronto.
Comprising three hospitals, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western
Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital, the UHN brings together the
innovation, talent and resources needed to achieve global impact on the
healthcare scene and provide exemplary patient care. For more
information, visit www.uhn.ca.
Toronto Medical Laboratories (TML) is a partnership of University Health
Network and MDS Diagnostics Inc. TML manages laboratory services for the
three UHN hospitals and 18 other hospitals in Ontario. TML also has
established laboratory services partnerships with other teaching
hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area, including the Hospital for Sick
Children, Mount Sinai Hospital, St. Michael’s Hospital, and Sunnybrook
Health Sciences Centre.