Pathology (from Greek πάθος, pathos, "fate, harm"; and -λογία, -logia) is the study and diagnosis of disease through examination of organs, tissues, bodily fluids and whole bodies (Autopsy). The term also encompasses the related scientific study of disease processes, called General pathology.

Medical pathology is divided in two main branches, Anatomical pathology and Clinical pathology.


History of pathology


The history of pathology can be traced to the earliest application of the scientific method to the field of medicine, a development which occurred in the Middle East during the Islamic Golden Age and in Western Europe during the Italian Renaissance.

Early systematic human dissections were carried out by the Ancient Greek physicians Herophilus of Chalcedon and Erasistratus of Chios in the early part of the third century BC.The first physician known to have made postmortem dissections was the Arabian physician Avenzoar (1091–1161). Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902) is generally recognized to be the father of microscopic pathology. Most early pathologists were also practicing physicians or surgeons.


General pathology


General pathology, also called investigative pathology, experimental pathology or theoretical pathology, is a broad and complex scientific field which seeks to understand the mechanisms of injury to cells and tissues, as well as the body's means of responding to and repairing injury. Areas of study include cellular adaptation to injury, necrosis, inflammation, wound healing and neoplasia. It forms the foundation of pathology, the application of this knowledge to diagnose diseases in humans and animals.

The term "general pathology" is also used to describe the practice of both anatomical and clinical pathology.


Pathology as a medical specialty


Pathologists are physicians who diagnose and characterize disease in living patients by examining biopsies or bodily fluid. The vast majority of cancer diagnoses are made or confirmed by a pathologist. Pathologists may also conduct autopsies to investigate causes of death. Pathology is a core discipline of medical school and many pathologists are also teachers. As managers of medical laboratories, pathologists play an important role in the development of Laboratory information systems. Although the medical practice of pathology grew out the tradition of investigative pathology, most modern pathologists do not perform original research.

Pathology is a unique medical specialty in that pathologists typically do not see patients directly, but rather serve as consultants to other physicians (often referred to as "clinicians" within the pathology community). To be licensed, candidates must complete medical training, an approved residency program and be certified by an appropriate body. In the US, certification is by the American Board of Pathology. The organization of subspecialties within pathology vary between nations but usually include anatomical pathology and clinical pathology.


Clinical pathology


Clinical pathology, Laboratory Medicine (Germany), Biopathology (Greece), or Clinical/Medical Biology (France, Belgium, Netherlands, Austria...) is a medical specialty that is concerned with the diagnosis of disease based on the laboratory analysis of bodily fluids such as blood and urine, using the tools of chemistry, microbiology, hematology and molecular pathology. Clinical pathologists work in close collaboration with medical technologists.

Clinical pathology is itself divided in subspecialties, the main ones being clinical chemistry, clinical hematology/blood banking and clinical microbiology.

Clinical pathology is one of the two major divisions of pathology, the other being anatomical pathology. Often, pathologists practice both anatomical and clinical pathology, a combination known as general pathology.



This is the specialty of diseases of the skin. Dermatopathologists are often pathologists, dermatopathologists, or individual with complete training in both specialties. To qualify for dermatopathology specialty, a physician usually perform one year of specialized fellowship.