What Is A Pathologist?

A pathologist is a physician who examines tissues and cells microscopically and checks the accuracy of laboratory tests, and integrates laboratory and clinical data facilitating patient diagnosis and treatment. Pathologists specialize in the diagnosis and characterization of disease based on the examination of tissues removed from the diseased body part or from biopsy samples. They also diagnose certain diseases and conditions through the laboratory analysis of various bodily fluids and blood. Pathologists work in conjunction with clinicians to help them make decisions regarding the most appropriate treatments for different disease conditions. 


Describes the scientific study of disease which can be described as any abnormality that is causing changes in the structure or function of body parts. In pathology, the causes, mechanisms and extent of disease may be examined. The resulting changes in the structure or function of a body part and significance of the disease is also considered. A general pathologist would usually be familiar with all aspects of laboratory analysis and trained in clinical chemistry, microbiology and hematology, for example, but their knowledge would be less detailed than that of a subspecialist in one of these fields.


Surgical pathologists are responsible for examining tissues specimens taken in the surgical suite of the hospital or biopsies taken in a physician's office or outpatient surgery center. The specific pathologic findings will determine the treatment plan for the patient.


Autopsy pathology is another major branch of anatomic pathology. Autopsies are useful and beneficial in the medical field to determine the cause of death including contributing factors. All pathologists on staff are trained and skilled in performing them.


How Is A Pathologist Different From My Primary Care provider?

Pathology literally means 'the study of disease', and is a fundamental discipline in the education of all medical doctors. However, beyond medical school training, pathologists study all the organ systems, and cell types which comprise the human body and their relationships to each other. After residency training, pathologists are eligible to be certified in anatomic and clinical pathology, with additional certifications available through additional subspecialty training. Our pathologists are board certified by the American Board of Pathology. It is estimated that 75% of all medical decisions are based on pathology and laboratory information generated by patient testing. Clinicians look to pathology for answers about their patients' diseases and conditions.


Clinical pathologists are responsible for all aspects of medical laboratory testing. Clinical pathologists are often consulted by other physicians seeking advice about specific tests and results interpretation, as well as recommendations for additional testing. This can include deciding which particular test should be ordered, determining how a specific body site should be cultured, and recommending additional testing for screening, monitoring or diagnosis.


Cytopathology is the branch of anatomic pathology which consists of the study of individual cells rather than whole tissues. Whereas surgical specimens maintain their architectural relation to the surrounding cells and tissues, cytologic samples consist of cells scraped off of or aspirated from the tissues being examined.