Children’s Hospital Colorado aka Children’s Colorado has announced its official Electron Microscopy (EM) accreditation and becomes one of only two sites in the nation certified in the use of electron microscopy to diagnose primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD). This EM accreditation is granted by the PCD Foundation (PCDF), a patient-focused organization dedicated to providing resources for those with PCD, a rare and debilitating lung disease.

“Children’s Colorado’s Electron Microscopy Lab has a long history of providing specialized electron microscopic imaging for many disease processes, including PCD,” says Eric Wartchow, PhD, Electron Microscopist at Children’s Colorado. “Receiving TEM certification from the PCDF will provide clinicians and pathologists, and ultimately the patients themselves, with the confidence that they are receiving the most accurate ultrastructural examination of their ciliary samples.”

Cilia, which are microscopic “hair-like” organelles projecting from the surface of cells lining our airways, are part of our natural defense against inhaled pathogens or irritants. PCD is a rare genetic disorder that prevents adequate clearing of mucus from the respiratory tract. Most patients with PCD have subtle structural abnormalities within their cilia observable only by electron microscopy. When genetic mutations cause cilia to function improperly, the failure to adequately clear mucus from our airways leads to chronic infections and inflammation which causes irreversible damage to the lungs.

“In 2022, our lab evaluated over 400 ciliary samples and with PCDF accreditation we expect to greatly increase the numbers of centers and patients we support,” says Wartchow. “We’re honored to partner with the PCDF and it is a testament to the years our team has dedicated to optimizing this specialized diagnostic service.”

“Children’s Colorado’s Department of Pathology and Lab Medicine achieving accreditation, greatly enhances our patients’ access to this important component of diagnosis for PCD,” says Michele Manion, president and executive director of the PCD Foundation.  “PCD is a lifelong, progressive respiratory disorder that can be challenging to diagnose. Early diagnosis of PCD is critical for ensuring appropriate treatment for affected indivduals in order to slow down progression of the disease and improve quality of life. Having expert EM centers like Children’s Colorado is a tremendous resource to aid in diagnosis and, ultimately, improve outcomes for individuals with PCD.”