big picture

image Chapter 1 The big picture

The aim of this book is to instil a broad working knowledge of pathology as relevant to current clinical medicine. The book is not intended as a fully comprehensive reference text—there are several other volumes that perform this function admirably—but as a ‘checklist’ of the most important concepts within pathology that facilitate intellectual links between disease processes at the cellular and clinical levels.

This section sets the scene by defining the term pathology and describing the roles of this subject both as a basic medical science and as a clinical speciality. It is followed by the ‘High return facts’—a checklist of the most important pathology-based concepts. Each one of these is expanded into more detail in Section three, which uses a double-page format with simple figures wherever possible to facilitate the learning process.


The word ‘pathology’ is derived from the Greek pathos, suffering, and logos, study. It uses scientific methods to investigate the causes and effects of disease within the body, in particular the structural and functional changes that occur in cells and tissues in response to injuries, abnormal stimuli or genetic abnormalities, and their consequences for the organism as a whole.

As a clinical subject pathology grew up

As the number and complexity of tests grew, a centralized laboratory was set up in each hospital with dedicated technical staff. The work of the hospital laboratory continued to expand until it required the attention of a full-time specialist: the pathologist.

In the UK, pathology is nowadays divided into a number of disciplines, each with its own specialist practitioners:

Pathology has a central place in modern medical practice. On the one hand, it represents the conceptual framework by which healthcare professionals organize their understanding of disease processes. Advances in clinical and basic science research are constantly modifying this understanding. On the other hand, laboratory tests are a vital part of the diagnosis of a wide range of diseases. Thus, pathology represents the link between the patient and the laboratory.


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Jul 3, 2016 | Posted by in MUSCULOSKELETAL MEDICINE | Comments Off on big picture

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