What are the areas of a pathology laboratory?

August 9, 2022by Kalstein
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The pathology laboratory is a specialized medical service that is responsible for receiving histological samples to be processed and analyzed by highly qualified professionals to issue an accurate diagnosis, in addition to providing a series of variables that are prognostic and predictive factors for the treatment of different diseases.

Its main objective is to be able to meet the requirements regarding the histopathological analysis of the various tissues and the expression in them of the various diseases that affect the human body. Analyzing samples of isolated tissues or cells (biopsies and cytologies), and generating reports of great clinical importance, which help other medical professionals to prescribe treatments, whether medical or surgical. Its activity is distributed in several functional areas, well defined but often interconnected:

Area of gross pathology

It is the area where the patient’s tissues from surgery or other procedures are received, described, and cut to prepare for microscopic examination. Pathologists and technicians do the initial evaluation and processing. Most tissues received in the laboratory are cut into small pieces and placed in a formalin solution for attachment.

Freezing area

It is the area where the surgeon sends fresh tissue taken during surgery for immediate diagnosis by the pathologist. This is only done when the surgeon needs an immediate diagnosis, as occurs in cancer.ย 

Fresh tissue is quickly frozen and then cut into very thin sections using a microtome. The sheets of tissue are placed in sheets of glass, stained, and examined by a pathologist under a microscope to provide a quick and timely diagnosis.

Area of histology

It refers to the area where routine procedures are performed from fixed tissue received from the area of gross pathology. Automated equipment processes tissues fixed in various fluids before a histologist embeds the processed tissue in paraffin blocks or similar synthetic substances.

The histologist separates paraffin-embedded tissue into very thin, almost transparent sections using a microtome. Very thin sections of fabric are placed on glass sheets and stained. Finally, the slides are presented to the pathologist for microscopic examination, diagnosis and report.

Cytology area

It is the area where cytotechnologists prepare and examine body tissues and fluids to detect the presence of abnormal cells such as cancer cells. The pathologist then evaluates the specimen and provides a final diagnosis.

Autopsy area

It is the area where autopsies are performed by the pathologist and pathology assistant, at the request of the family or doctor of the deceased patient. This area is usually next to the hospital morgue.

The autopsy process includes a review of the patientโ€™s medical history, a gross examination of organs, a microscopic examination of selected tissue samples, and a review of special studies such as toxicology. Finally, the pathologist generates a comprehensive report with conclusions about the cause of death and the factors that contributed to it.

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