Atlantic Ocean no barrier to transplant pathologists in Pittsburgh and Sicily doing routine consults through unique telepathology system

FT. LAUDERDALE, FLA., June 4 -- A telepathology system developed by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has been found to be an effective means for a transplant pathologist working alone in a UPMC-managed facility in Palermo, Sicily, to receive real-time consults from transplant pathologists located in Pittsburgh.

In the past year, more than 150 cases have been reviewed using the static image telepathology system, reported Yukako Yagi, at ATA 2001, the annual meeting of the American Telemedicine Association.

"This rapid and interactive telepathology system not only helped to avoid misdiagnoses, it allowed the on-site pathologist in Palermo to confirm her impressions and diagnoses with colleagues in Pittsburgh, thus improving diagnosis, treatment and patient care," said Ms.Yagi, director of telepathology at UPMC's Center for Pathology Informatics.

The success of the system is relevant because a pathologist's diagnosis can often determine if an organ transplant or liver resection operation will proceed, even as the patient is on the operating room table. In addition, diagnosing organ rejection can be tricky, as there can be nuances in how rejection can manifest itself. The pathologist's report determines in large part if and how rejection is to be treated by the transplant team.

UPMC pathologists and information systems experts developed the system in-house because no commercial system was available to meet the specific requirements of transplant pathologists. The system is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and operates over a secure private network between Marta Ida Minervini, M.D., the UPMC-trained pathologist at the Mediterranean Institute of Transplantation and Advanced Specialized Therapies in Palermo and pathologists at UPMC in Pittsburgh. It allows for real-time chat, and all interactions are stored to maintain discussion context when decisions are made over several days.

With a six-hour time difference between P

Contact: Lisa Rossi
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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