Four employees in an office looking at the camera, smiling

Dr. Elizabeth Demicco

It is hours into a complex, delicate surgery and timing is crucial.

A technologist prepares, cuts and stains a tissue sample removed from the surgical patient to provide a frozen “quick section” specimen. The pathologist, an expert in assessing these tissues, examines the specimen and identifies the underlying illness or disease.

Working from Mount Sinai Hospital’s new Rapid Response Satellite Pathology Unit (RRSPU), the pathologist delivers a preliminary diagnosis to the surgeon within 20 minutes. 

The addition of the RRSPU is one of many highly-anticipated upgrades planned for the Hospital’s re-designed and re-imagined Peri-operative Services, which will soon unveil state-of-the-art operating rooms and surgical services on one expanded, patient-centered floor.  

The floor’s new advanced digital capabilities mean pathologists in the RRSPU will be able to project images of microscopic quick sections onto operating room TV monitors for immediate consultation with surgeons providing them with quicker access to the critical pathology preliminary diagnosis they need to alter a patient’s treatment plan.

Darlene Collett, Senior Manager of the Anatomic Pathology Department expands on the benefits of a rapid preliminary diagnosis, “Imagine a surgeon removing a tumour. They want to ensure all of it has been removed. The surgeon removes a piece of tissue from an area of concern, and sends it to the RRSPU. The pathologist reviews the tissue sent for quick section and reports the diagnosis to the surgeon. This can have a significant impact on the extent of surgery performed, and thereby the patient’s recovery.”

Anatomic pathology deals with the analysis of tissue or fluid removed from a patient to identify abnormalities and render a diagnosis. Such as taking a biopsy, to identify cancer.

“Eight out of 10 medical decisions are based on information gleaned from pathology,” says Dr. Elizabeth Demicco, Pathologist, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine for Sinai Health. “So it’s incredibly valuable to have pathologists in the RRSPU be able to consult and collaborate so quickly with our surgeons, to support our world-class surgical services.”

The RRSPU is part of Mount Sinai’s Renew Sinai project – the hospital’s largest and most ambitious redevelopment – that will transform facilities for patients diagnosed with cancer, undergoing life-saving surgery, requiring emergency care and so much more.