As a patient awaits the results of an annual blood test, tissue biopsy or PAP smear, he or she is relying on the knowledge and skill of the pathologist – a physician responsible for determining the results of the test. Pathology, the study of disease, is a fundamental aspect of diagnosis and treatment and an integral part of the Medical Center’s day-to-day operation.
Full-time board certified pathologists, who are broadly trained in both anatomical pathology and clinical laboratory medicine and who also have varied subspecialty interests, staff the on-site Pathology Department at Good Samaritan. Everyday, pathologists render diagnoses on tissue samples obtained during surgery and other biopsy procedures. They also evaluate PAP smears and body fluids, as well as ensure high quality, cost-effective clinical laboratory testing.
Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)
A relatively new, increasingly popular diagnostic tool utilized at the Medical Center as an alternative to surgery is Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) biopsy. This minimally invasive procedure allows a pathologist to collect a sample for the determination and differentiation of normal, pre-malignant or malignant cells. An FNA may be performed on, but is not limited to: a thyroid, lymph nodes or a breast mass. The FNA, including interview, examination and preparation, takes about 30 minutes. Anesthesia is not necessary and the needle used for aspiration is extremely thin (1 mm or less). No fasting or previous preparation is required and normal activities can be resumed the same day.
A variety of ancillary tests are also performed, including tests for estrogen and progesterone receptors and Her-2/neu overexpression, which provides important prognostic information critical for management of patients with breast cancer. In addition, liquid-based Thin Prepä Pap smear testing for early testing of cervical cancer is currently available. In conjunction with Pap smear testing, on-site testing for the virus HPV that causes cervical cancer is performed.
In addition, the Department serves as an optimal facility for physician and patients who require a second pathological opinion on prior surgery, biopsies or PAP smears. Seeking second opinions for results is encouraged throughout the medical community. The secondary review usually verifies the first diagnosis, but in some instances may result in a clinically significant disagreement, which will impact patient care. This information assists both the patient and the physician in the decision-making process and can often afford peace of mind in a confirmed diagnosis.