Anatomic Pathology

Older woman smiling.

Anatomic pathology focuses on the daignosis of disease from tissue samples using these scientific tools:

  • Dermatopathology – Pathologists provide consultative and diagnostic expertise in the evaluation of skin diseases, including inflammatory and neoplastic processes.
  • Cytopathology and fine-needle aspiration – Cytopathology provides gynecological and non-gynecologic cytology services. Fine-Needle Aspiration is also available to provide rapid diagnoses for patients with masses or lesions.
    • Pap smear – Cytopathology is also used in the diagnosis of some infectious diseases and other inflammatory conditions. A common application of cytopathology is the Pap Smear, a screening tool used to detect pre-cancerous cervical lesions that may lead to cervical cancer.
    • Fine-needle aspiration biopsies – The other principal diagnostic tool of the cytopathologist is the Fine-Needle Aspiration biopsy. This technique uses a thin needle to remove a sample of cells from just beneath a patient's skin.
    The cytopathologist identifies cells that pose potential danger to a patient such as pre-cancerous, cancerous or infected cells.
  • Electron microscopy – The electron microscope is used to view thin specimens (tissue sections, molecules, etc.) through a beam of electrons to create an image of a specimen.
  • Hematopathology – This area performs diagnostic evaluation of blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes and other lymphoid lesions to identify leukemia, lymphoma and blood disorders.
  • Image analysis – Pathologists quantitatively evaluate immunohistochemical markers using image analysis for diagnosis and prognosis of cancer and other diseases.
  • Immunohistochemistry – Technologists prepare tissue samples to identify specific proteins to diagnose abnormal cells such as those found in cancerous tumors.
  • Molecular pathology – Specialists study disease in tissues and cells at the molecular level.
  • Neuropathology – Pathologists study tissue from the brain and spinal cord to diagnose diseases of the central nervous system.
  • Surgical pathology – Pathologists examine tissue removed from patients during surgery to help provide a diagnosis and determine a treatment plan.
  • Renal pathology – Specialists study tissue to diagnose kidney diseases.
  • Autopsy – A post-mortem examination is performed to help determine the cause of death and identify any diseases present.

Autopsy: Answers to common questions

  • An autopsy is an examination of the body after death. The examination is performed by a pathologist – a medical doctor specially trained to perform the procedure and to recognize the effects of illness or injury to the body.

  • To answer questions a physician or family may have about an illness, cause of death or any other medical conditions the decedent may have had. Frequently, an autopsy will identify the precise cause(s) of death, providing valuable information to both the decedent’s physician and family.

  • The pathologist performing the autopsy examines the outside of the body carefully, looking for any signs of illness or injury. The inside of the body is then examined, using procedures that are like those used during surgical operations. Small samples of organs or tissues may be taken for examination under a microscope.

  • The results of the autopsy typically take at least 30 working days and are shared with the decedent’s physician.