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KGH Pioneers New Telepathology Technology


February 05, 2010
Friday AM

Ketchikan, Alaska - Imagine looking through a microscope in Bellingham, Washington, and viewing a slide in Ketchikan, Alaska, and you have the idea behind the new telepathology service that now links the two cities. The new service allows surgeons in the operating room at Ketchikan General Hospital real time consultation with pathologists at Northwest Pathology in Bellingham. The pathologist can change focus, illumination, magnification, and field of view at will as he or she uses an online interface to examine a frozen tissue slide prepared in Ketchikan.

jpg New Telepathology Technology Pioneered at KGH

Rachelle Britton, a histotechnologist with PeaceHealth Laboratories in Ketchikan, is looking at skin tissue with the telepathology equipment. Ketchikan General Hospital is among the first hospitals in the country to use telepathology.
Photograph courtesy Ketchikan General Hospital

Ketchikan General Hospital (KGH), in partnership with the PeaceHealth Laboratories and Northwest Pathology, is among the first hospitals in North America to use telepathology in an intraoperative setting. This technology has been used for research, academic instruction and general pathology consultations but KGH is pioneering this use of the technology, which is especially beneficial to smaller, rural critical access hospitals where technical experts may not be readily available.

The use of this technology will improve patient care and reduce travel costs. Here is how it works: a surgeon at KGH submits tissue for pathology review during a procedure. A histotechnologist at the Ketchikan lab will freeze the tissue, prepare the slide and scan it. In Bellingham, one of the pathologists will log into an online site to review the whole slide image and call the surgeon directly in the O.R. to discuss the results.

"This type of in-the-operating-room or 'intraoperative' consultation using telepathology is just as accurate and timely as if the pathologist was right there in the Ketchikan lab," explains Dr. Berle Stratton, Cytopathologist with Northwest Pathology. "Now, we can have immediate analysis of a frozen tissue sample for any type of surgery, even emergencies, conducted during normal business hours without the delay and expense of arranging for an onsite visit."

Previously, that pathologist really did need to be onsite, and was flown up to Ketchikan in advance to attend a planned, elective surgery.

"Virtual access to experts is increasingly in demand throughout the medical world," says PeaceHealth Laboratories CEO Ran Whitehead. "This new service is an exciting first step for our laboratory system as we explore how such technology will allow us to improve patient safety and better serve our clients."



Source of News:

Ketchikan General Hospital


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