Pathology is the medical specialty concerned with the study of the nature and causes of diseases. It plays a vital role throughout our lives. It underpins every aspect of medicine, from diagnostic testing and monitoring of chronic diseases to cutting-edge genetic research and blood transfusion technologies
There are two predominant professions working in the area of pathology;
- Pathologists (specialist medical practitioners)
- Scientists (including medical scientists, clinical scientists such as in genetics, and clinical biochemists)
Pathologists and scientists study the cause of disease and the ways in which diseases affect our bodies by examining changes in body tissues, blood and other body fluids. Sampling, testing and analysing body tissues, blood and other body fluids contributes to health and disease through the:
- detection of potential to develop a disease
- diagnosis of disease/condition
- identification of cause or severity of disease
- monitoring disease progression
- monitoring the effects of treatment
The five major areas of activity in Pathology are:
Chemical pathology may be called clinical biochemistry, clinical chemistry, and medical biochemistry. It is a division of pathology that is concerned with the laboratory analysis and interpretation of biochemical tests in diagnosis and management of conditions and disease.
Chemical pathology is vital in diagnosis and management of commonly encountered conditions such as diabetes, lipid abnormalities, kidney disease etc.
A key aspect of this work is quality assurance of reliability of tests and results
Chemical pathologists are members of multidisciplinary teams in hospitals supporting diagnosis, monitoring and management of patient with a range of metabolic conditions and disease.
Haematology incorporates a major medical speciality with an inherent laboratory element. Haematology is essential to diagnosis and management of a range of conditions such leukaemia, and haemophilia.
Haematologists complete clinical assessments and manage treatment while also work in the laboratory to diagnose and monitor patients
Histopathology is the speciality of pathology concerned with examination of samples of body tissue for diagnosis and prognosis of a number of conditions.
This information supports multidisciplinary teams in making decisions regarding treatment options.
Immunology is the branch of pathology that includes the study of immunodeficiency, allergy (anaphylaxis) and some autoimmune disease. In the laboratory testing can provide information to guide diagnosis and management of conditions that affect the immune system.
Immunologists like other pathologists provide advice to medical colleagues and may run their own clinics.
Microbiology is the specialist area of pathology focused on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases.
There are four types of organisms that cause infections; bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites.
Medical microbiologists are important members of multidisciplinary team and provide advice on prevention and appropriate treatment of infectious diseases in hospitals. They are also involved in identification and monitoring of potential health risk to community and education regarding best practice to reduce risk of developing or spreading infectious diseases.
Some microbiologists also study non harmful micro-organisms to develop new treatments.