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General Pathology

Pathology is the study of the cause of disease and the modifications in cellular function and changes in cellular structure produced in any cell, organ, or part of the body by disease. The changes in tissue include degeneration, atrophy, hypertrophy, hyperplasia, and inflammation. The microscope is an important factor in detecting tissue changes, especially in the examination of small sections of tissue removed for diagnosis (biopsy); for this reason real progress in pathology was not made until the 19th cent. Other diagnostic techniques for testing body fluids and tissues for abnormal composition or metabolisms are electronmicroscopy, immunocytochemistry, and molecular pathologies.


Medical specialty dealing with causes of disease and structural and functional changes in abnormal conditions. As autopsies, initially prohibited for religious reasons, became more accepted in the late Middle Ages, people learned more about the causes of death. In 1761 Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682–1771) published the first book to locate disease in individual organs. In the mid-19th century the humoral theories of infection were replaced first by cell-based theories (see Rudolf Virchow) and then by the bacteriologic theories of Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur. Today pathologists work mostly in the laboratory and consult with a patient's physician after examining specimens including surgically removed body parts, blood and other fluids, urine, feces, and discharges. Culturing of infectious organisms, staining, fibre-optic endoscopy, and electron microscopy have greatly expanded the information available to the pathologist.




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