Even though you will likely never meet your pathologist, they are working hard to provide you the best medical care possible and are an integral part of your "behind the scenes" care team.
Pathology is a medical sub-specialty concerned with the diagnosis of various disease states by understanding their unique causes, pathways, and manifestations within the human body. Any fluid or tissue obtained from a patient will pass through the Department of Pathology for various testing and analysis.
Pathologists are medical doctors who have completed medical school, followed by residency in pathology, and frequently followed by sub-specialty training. Most pathologists practice both Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Pathology, but have a specialization within one of these areas.
Anatomic Pathology is the diagnosis of disease based on the macroscopic, microscopic, biochemical, immunologic and molecular examination of organs and tissues. Our pathologists use many of these techniques when caring for our patients, including:
- Surgical Pathology – the gross and microscopic evaluation of biopsies and surgical resection specimens, with further sub-specialization based on organ system or anatomic site. A large part of the field concerns the staging of complex resections for cancer, to determine what additional treatment the patient needs (chemotherapy, radiation, re-resection)
- Cytopathology – the examination of fine needle biopsy specimens and body fluid specimens for malignant or inflammatory cellular processes
- Forensic Pathology (Medical Examiner) – the postmortem examination in cases of homicide, suicide, accident, overdose
Clinical Pathology focuses on diagnosing disease based on the laboratory analysis of bodily fluids, such as blood, urine and tissue extracts using the tools of chemistry, microbiology, hematology and molecular pathology. Our pathologists provide many clinical pathology services, including:
- Hematopathology – the study and evaluation of blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and other tissues for lymphomas and leukemias
- Molecular Pathology and Cytogenetics – the study of chromosomal anomalies and particular genetic mutations and deletions as it relates to diseases, hereditary syndromes, and tumor bioprofiles
- Clinical Chemistry – includes the interpretation of routinely ordered blood work and toxicology
- Transfusion Medicine includes the evaluation of red blood cells for transfusion, oversight of blood component storage, the issuing of the compatible blood products, and evaluation of various types of transfusion reactions
- Microbiology – the study and diagnosis of infectious micro-organisms (viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites)
- Coagulation Medicine - the study and laboratory evaluation of patients who have abnormal bleeding or clotting to determine the cause and treatment
UM BWMC's pathologists play a critical role in establishing the diagnosis and determining the treatment management of patients, including active participation in intradepartmental tumor boards and communicating complex diagnoses in an understandable way to oncologists, radiologists, and surgeons. Pathologists coordinate ancillary genetic testing that determines what targeted therapy may benefit a patient with cancer. Pathologists also determine if a donor organ is acceptable for transplantation. Within Clinical Pathology, pathologists interpret complex laboratory results, such as genetic tests and blood coagulation panels.
Our Department of Pathology works in partnership with our Laboratory and departments of medical services and surgical services. Pathology can be reached at 410-787-4545.