Cardiac Pathology is instrumental in diagnosing and planning treatment for the wide range of heart diseases and disorders seen at the Heart Institute. Our Director sits on the Transplant Committee and is heavily involved in research and educational activities. He was involved in the drafting of cardiac autopsy guidelines which have been adopted by the Province of Ontario.
Pathologists are doctors who specialize in using laboratory methods to diagnosis and manage disease. A pathologist may examine a wide range of biological materials in the course of obtaining a diagnosis, including heart tissue, blood, and even DNA.
Diagnostic pathology is sometimes even performed on the spot during cardiac surgery using a technique called frozen sectioning. A piece of tissue is removed during the surgery, frozen, thinly sliced, and prepared for rapid microscopic examination by the pathologist while the patient is still on the operating table. This rapid diagnosis can help guide the surgeon as to how to proceed with the surgery.
In addition to providing diagnoses, pathologists participate in the day-to-day care of patients by monitoring the effects of treatment, such as tracking the health of a new heart after a heart transplant. Cardiac Pathology also performs autopsies—the examination of biological materials after a death. Autopsy pathology can play an important role in determining the cause of a death, identifying new diseases, and determining when surviving family members should be screened for inherited cardiac conditions.
Cardiac Pathology is also an integral part of much Heart Institute research.