Home Events Doing More with Less: Effusion Cytology – a Significant Resource to Guide Therapy in the Era of Personalized Medicine

Doing More with Less: Effusion Cytology – a Significant Resource to Guide Therapy in the Era of Personalized Medicine


May 26 2021


1:00 pm - 2:30 pm


  • Dr Harman Sekhon
    Dr Harman Sekhon

    After graduating from medical school, Dr. Sekhon obtained MSc and PhD in Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (UBC), Canada.
    He completed AP/CP residency training at the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU), followed by Fellowships in Cytopathology at the University of Washington, and Surgical Pathology Fellowship at OHSU. He joined Ottawa Hospital (TOH) in 2008, served as a Director of Cytopathology and promoted to Full Professor at the University of Ottawa. He is currently EORLA Regional Head and Director of Anatomic Pathology, PI of Ottawa-site OTB, and CCO Regional Cancer Pathology Lead.

    His research interest includes role of nAchRs in cancer pathogenesis and therapeutic targets. He has authored or co-authored 200+ original publications and abstracts. He served as the Chair of Canadian Society of Cytopathology, and is Editorial board member of Canadian Journal of Pathology and member of many provincial and national advisory board

  • Dr Omar Al-Nourhji
    Dr Omar Al-Nourhji

    Dr. Omar Al-Nourhji, MD, FRCPC is an Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Ottawa and staff Cytopathologist/Anatomical Pathologist at the Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (EORLA)/the Ottawa Hospital. A graduate of Damascus University Faculty of Medicine, he initially completed a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Southern Illinois University. Following two years of practice in Newfoundland, he returned to pursue additional postgraduate training in the field of Pathology. Dr. Al-Nourhji completed an anatomical pathology/clinical pathology residency at St. Louis University followed by a cytopathology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. In 2016, he returned to Canada to join the University of Saskatchewan before moving to his current position at the Ottawa Hospital, where he is part of the cytology and gynecologic pathology groups.


At the end of this session participants will be able to:
1. Describe a practical diagnostic approach to pleural, pericardial and peritoneal effusion specimens with an emphasis on challenges and pitfalls of effusion cytomorphology.
2. Discuss the systematic and algorithmic approach utilizing current ancillary studies in effusion cytology.
3. Summarize the role of cytopathologists in specimen optimization for molecular testing (preanalytic variables, specimen processing, tissue conservation).
4. Discuss molecular testing: Why is testing needed? When to order?
5. Discuss tissue selection: Which tests to order (prioritize)?
6. Discuss test protocols: How to test?


Pleural, pericardial, and peritoneal effusion specimens may provide the first diagnosis of malignancy or be the first sign of disease recurrence in patients with previous malignancy. Despite being a common specimen in the cytology laboratory, these specimens may present diagnostic challenges to the practicing pathologist.

This session will detail the diagnostic features of benign and malignant effusions encountered in daily practice. Importance of integration of cytological and clinical correlation will also be incorporated.

A practical approach to immunohistochemical workup with an emphasis on new immunostains will be outlined. Effusion cytology specimens are more frequently being utilized for molecular testing, avoiding the need for further invasive procedures to acquire additional tissue.

A detailed outline of the cytopathologist’s role in molecular testing will be addressed (preanalytic variables and specimen optimization, indications for and methods of molecular testing including IHC, DNA and RNA targeted tests).