Pathology (from Greek πάθος, patos, "fate, harm"; and -λογία, -logia) is the study and diagnosis of disease through examination of organs, tissues, bodily fluids, and whole bodies (autopsies). 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. Veterinary pathology is concerned with animal disease whereas Phytopathology is the study of plant diseases.
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 infections 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 is 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 of 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 or the American Osteopathic Board of Pathology. The organization of subspecialties within pathology varies between nations, but usually includes anatomical pathology and clinical pathology.