Shadowing a DoctorApril 9, 2014
Pathology-Specialty & Sub-Specialty Information
Pathology deals with the causes and nature of various diseases and contributes to the diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of the disease. A pathologist establishes the presence or absence of a particular disease using information gathered from the microscopic examination of cells, tissues and body fluids as well as from clinical laboratory tests on body fluids and secretions. Anatomic pathologists usually work in hospitals, investigating the effects of disease on the human body via autopsies and microscopic examination of tissues, cells, and other specimens. Many academic pathologists devote significant time in their career to research.
Subspecialties of Pathology
Blood Banking-Transfusion Medicine
Neuropathology – A neuropathologist diagnoses diseases of the nervous system and skeletal muscles and functions as a consultant primarily to neurologists and neurosurgeons. Pathologists who specialise in this subspecialty are knowledgeable in the infirmities of humans as they affect the nervous and neuromuscular systems, which could be degenerative, immunologic, infectious, metabolic, vascular, physical or neoplastic or in nature.
Haematopathology – Haematopathology deals diseases that affect hematopoietic cells that originate from the bone marrow. A haematopathologist has the knowledge and technical skills essential for the laboratory diagnosis of anaemia, bleeding disorders, leukaemia, blood clotting disorders and lymphoma.
Blood Banking/Transfusion Medicine -A pathologist who specialises in blood banking/transfusion medicine is responsible for pre-transfusion compatibility testing and antibody testing to ensure that blood transfusions are as safe as possible for the donor as well as the recipient. They are also responsible for maintaining adequate blood supply and appropriate blood utilisation. These professionals also oversee the preparation and safe use of specially prepared blood components, including platelets and plasma constituents, red blood cells, white blood cells and marrow or stem cells for transplantation.
Cytopathology -A cytopathologist is an anatomic pathologist who specialises in diagnosing human disease by means of the study of cells obtained by scraping, washing, or sponging the surface of a lesion or by the aspiration of a tumour mass or body organ with a fine needle. A cytopathologist’s expertise is applied to the diagnosis of cells from all systems and areas of the body including the Pap smear test. This specialist acts as a consultant to all medical specialists.
Forensic Pathology – A forensic pathologist is an expert in investigating and assessing cases of sudden, unexpected, violent or suspicious death as well as other specific classes of death as defined by law. Forensic pathologists serve the public as medical examiner or coroner or by performing medico-legal autopsies for such officials.
Paediatric Pathology – Paediatric pathology deals with the laboratory diagnosis of diseases that occur during foetal growth, infancy and child development. The practice requires extensive knowledge of paediatric medicine along with a strong foundation in general pathology and substantial understanding of normal growth and development.
Chemical Pathology -A chemical pathologist is trained in the biochemistry of the human body as it applies to understanding the cause and progress of various diseases. This specialist typically functions as a clinical consultant in diagnosing and treating human disease. Chemical pathology entails the application of biochemical data to detecting, confirming, or monitoring diseases.
Dermatopathology – Dermatopathology deals with diagnosing and managing diseases of the skin including infectious, degenerative, neo-plastic and immunologic diseases. This entails the examination and interpretation of specially prepared tissue sections, smears of skin lesions and cellular scrapings by means of routine, electron or fluorescent microscopes.
Medical Microbiology – Medical Microbiology deals with the isolation and identification of microbial agents that cause infectious disease. Bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi are identified and tested for susceptibility to various antimicrobial agents.