Anatomic pathologists are physicians who specialize in the anatomical study of changes in the function, appearance, or structure of organs or tissues.
Anatomic pathologists make primary diagnoses on small tissue samples (biopsies) removed from patients and provide important prognostic and treatment information through the examination of tissues removed at surgery.
Jon Lomasney, MD, Director
The Autopsy Division performs approximately 250 autopsies a year to:
The Autopsy Service strives for accuracy, completeness, and timeliness in performing and reporting on autopsies. While the expertise and resources of the Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital are available for specialized consultations, the autopsy faculty has special expertise in areas that affect most patients including:
Ritu Nayar, MD, Director
Cytopathology is a highly specialized branch of anatomic pathology that allows diagnoses of benign, precancerous, and malignant lesions at the cellular level, using minimally invasive sampling methodology. There are two major types of specimens:
- Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNA)
Akin to a small “blood draw," FNA is a minimally invasive way to obtain adequate tissue from a mass lesion, via a thin needle, with or without radiologic guidance. FNA is often accompanied by a core biopsy.
- Exfoliative Cytology
Exfoliative cytology includes performing tests such as Pap tests, body fluids, brushings and lavages. It involves procurement of material for cancer screening, diagnostic purposes, and extent of tumor spread (staging).
Tissue obtained by the cytopathology laboratory may be used for morphologic assessment, as well as specialized studies (e.g. staining, molecular testing) to provide specific diagnosis, prognostic information and eligibility for personalized drug therapy.
Board-certified cytopathologists, along with our cytotechnologists, trainees and laboratory staff, function as part of various multidisciplinary teams to provide patients with the highest standard of care.
Ximing Yang, MD, PhD, DIrector
The Immunohistochemistry division performs immunohistochemical staining, in situ hybridization and immunofluorescent staining on routinely processed paraffin-embedded tissue sections and on frozen tissue sections to determine to phenotype of individual cells and/or cell populations.
These phenotypic studies are important for the identification of tumor cell types and give valuable information as to potential treatment options as well as patient prognosis.
Guang-Yu Yang, MD, PhD, Director
Surgical Pathology allows for the definitive diagnosis of disease in any case where tissue is surgically removed from a living patient. Two main types of surgical pathology specimens include:
Biopsies are small pieces of tissue and characterized as:
Surgical resection specimens are obtained by the surgical removal of the entire diseased organ or region (may include several organs). The practice of surgical pathology is usually a combination of gross (visual or macroscopic) and microscopic examination of tissue, and may also involve cutting edge techniques or state-of-the-art molecular and genetic laboratory tests to evaluate the properties of the tissue and disease.
Surgical pathology analysis of these biopsy and surgical resection specimens is the gold standard to confirm a diagnosis and stage the extent of malignant disease.The other major function of the surgical pathology division is to perform rapid intraoperative consultations (frozen sections) to assist surgeons in charting the proper course during surgical procedures.
Examination of the fresh “frozen section” specimens helps to:
Our surgical pathology division reflects the various subspecialties of our highly qualified board-certified pathologists. Subspecialization allows for increased experience and skill for the interpretation of challenging cases. Areas of extensive experience and subspecialization include, among others:
Many pathologists are also actively engaged in translational or laboratory research within their specialty.
The Department of Pathology's staff may be contacted by using the Physician Access Line at 1-800-638-3737.
Kalliopi Siziopikou, MD, PhD, Director
The Section of Breast Pathology provides comprehensive diagnostic expertise relating to the pathologic evaluation of benign and malignant disorders of the breast.
The Section evaluates all breast needle core biopsy specimens generated by Breast Imaging, all large surgical breast specimens (such as excisions, re-excisions and mastectomies) generated by Breast Surgery and offers expert second opinion breast consultation services.
State-of-the-art analysis of predictive and prognostic breast tumor markers is also performed using a variety of immunohistochemical and molecular techniques.
The Section of Breast Pathology is a key component of the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Center of Northwestern University that emphasizes an effective multidisciplinary approach to the care of patients with breast disease.
Eileen Bigio, MD, Director
The Neuropathology division is responsible for interpreting the pathology in surgical specimens from the brain and spinal cord, including biopsies and resections.
Clinicians use this information to plan treatment of patients with tumors, inflammatory and demyelinating conditions and other disease processes.
This division is also responsible for interpreting the pathology in autopsy brains and spinal cords.Autopsy findings assist clinicians in understanding the disease process and the results of various diagnostic investigative procedures in order to optimize future processes.
Linda Ernst, MD, Director
The Perinatal Pathology division is responsible for the examination of placentas and fetal specimens in surgical pathology. Prentice Women’s Hospital has one of the largest obstetrics services in the country, with over 13,000 deliveries annually. Therefore, this specialized perinatal pathology service is important to obstetricians and neonatologists who care for the mothers and babies.
Additionally, this division is responsible for performing autopsies in cases of perinatal and/or neonatal death. A majority of these autopsies are performed on stillborn fetuses and establishing a probable cause of death in these cases is very important for clinicians and families.
Cardiac pathology is the subspecialty of surgical pathology that focuses on the diagnosis and characterization of pathology specimens related to cardiovascular conditions and diseases.
Gastrointestinal/hepatic pathology is the subspecialty of surgical pathology that focuses on the comprehensive diagnosis and characterization of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and the accessory organs such as the pancreas, biliary tract and liver.
Genitourinary/renal pathology is the subspecialty of surgical pathology that focuses on the diagnosis of diseases of the urinary tract and the male genital tract. Renal pathology focuses on disorders of the kidney.
Gynecologic/reproductive pathology is the subspecialty of surgical pathology that focuses on the study and diagnosis of diseases of the female reproductive tract.
Thoracic/Soft Tissue/Endocrine Pathology
Thoracic pathology is the subspecialty of surgical pathology that focuses on the comprehensive diagnosis of diseases of the lung, pleura, and mediastinum.
Soft tissue pathology deals with the characterization of neoplastic and non-neoplastic disease of the soft tissues including the muscles, tendons, fascia, connective tissues, and adipose tissue. Endocrine pathology primarily works with the organs of the endocrine system including the thyroid, parathyroid glands, and adrenal glands.