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What is Pathology?

Literally, pathology is the study (logos) of suffering (pathos). As a science, pathology focuses on the structural and functional consequences of disease on the human body. Traditionally, pathology is divided into two categories, clinical and anatomic. Clinical pathology is involved in blood banking, hematology, chemistry, and microbiology. Anatomic pathology encompasses the microscopic interpretation of tissues.

Who is a Pathologist?

A pathologist is a physician specialist who has had five years of postgraduate training in the field of laboratory medicine. In addition to overseeing the hospital laboratory, the pathologist will examine biopsies obtained in physician offices and in surgery. They also interpret cervical PAP smears and examine body fluids for malignancy. Pathologists are also involved in various hospital communities that assure the highest quality of medical care in the hospital.

What Types of Biopsies Do Pathologists Examine?

The pathologist will examine any biopsy (tissue sample) that is obtained and submitted to the laboratory by other physicians such as a surgeon, dermatologist, radiologist or gastroenterologist. This tissue is then submitted to the laboratory where is usually examined under the microscope by a pathologist. The pathologists at Laguna Pathology Medical Group give high priority to patient safety and have instituted procedures to insure accurate and meaningful diagnosis. Many biopsies are reviewed by two pathologists. Some examples of commonly performed biopsies are listed below.
  • Breast Biopsy
    A breast biopsy, whether obtained by fine needle aspiration, guided core biopsy, or excisional biopsy, is reviewed by at least two of our board certified surgical pathologists. This includes all benign, atypical, or malignant lesions. Two independent examinations of the same biopsy increase the sensitivity and accuracy of the diagnosis. > Read more
  • Prostate Biopsy
    A prostate biopsy is extensively sampled and multiple slides are reviewed by two certified surgical pathologists. As with breast biopsies, two independent examinations increase the sensitivity and accuracy of the diagnosis.
  • Bone Marrow Biopsy
    Our pathologists perform bone marrow biopsies as an outpatient procedure in the Same Day Surgery Department at South Coast Medical Center. We routinely utilize conscious sedation techniques with intravenous medication to help make the procedure more tolerable and alleviate any discomfort during the procedure.
  • CT Guided Aspirations
    Sometimes lesions or masses are deep seated in the body and can only be reached with a needle carefully inserted into a body cavity and guided by either ultrasound or CT scan. A radiologist performs these needle biopsies on organs such as thyroid, liver, and lung. Our pathologists will assist the radiologists in preparing the best possible sample. One of our two board certified cytopathologists, specialists in the microscopic interpretation of small groups of cells will review your case.
  • Intraoperative Consultation
    Your surgeon may send us a sample of tissue during surgery for us to provide a diagnosis to help guide him in your care. Using frozen section techniques, we freeze a sample and cut a slide. We then review the sections under the microscope while you are still in surgery.
  • Cervical PAP Smears
    We encourage the use of the new liquid based PAP technique (SurePath) by our physicians. All slides are prepared and read on site by both a cytotechnologist and board certified cytopathologist.
  • Skin Biopsy Interpretation
    Please see Skin Biopsy Interpretation or Dermatopathology Page

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