The word ‘Pathology’ is derived from two Greek words—pathos (meaning suﬀering) and logos (meaning study). Pathology is, thus, scientific study of changes in the structure and function of the body in disease. In other words, pathology consists of the abnormalities in normal anatomy (including histology) and normal physiology owing to disease.
Another commonly used term with reference to study of diseases is ‘pathophysiology’(patho=suﬀering, physiology=study of normal function).Pathophysiology, thus, includes study of disordered function (i.e. physiological changes) and breakdown of homeostasis in diseases (i.e. biochemical changes).
Pathologists contribute in patient management by providing final diagnosis of disease.Therefore, knowledge and understanding of pathology is essential for all would-be doctors, as well as general medical practitioners and specialists because unless they have knowledge and understanding of the language in the form
of pathology laboratory reports, they would not be able to institute appropriate treatment or suggest preventive measures to the patient.
For the student of any system of medicine, the discipline of pathology forms a vital bridge between initial learning phase of preclinical sciences and the fnal phase of clinical subjects. Te role and significance of learning of pathology in clinical medicine is quite well summed up by Sir William Osler (1849- 1919), acclaimed physician and teacher in medicine considered as ‘Father of Modern Medicine’ by his famous quote “your practice of medicine will be as good as is your understanding of pathology.
COMMON TERMS IN PATHOLOGY
It is important for a beginner in pathology to be familiar with the language used in pathology :
Patient is the person aﬀected by disease.
Lesions are the characteristic changes in tissues and cells produced by disease in an individual or experimental animal.
Pathological changes or morphology consist of examination
of diseased tissues.
- These can be recognized with the naked eye (gross or macroscopic changes) or studied by microscopic examination of tissues.
- Causal factors responsible for the lesions are included in
etiology of disease (i.e. ‘why’ of disease).
Mechanism by which the lesions are produced is termed
pathogenesis of disease (i.e. ‘how’ of disease).
Functional implications of the lesion felt by the patient
are symptoms and those discovered by the clinician are the
Clinical signifcance of the morphologic and functional
changes together with results of other investigations help to
arrive at an answer to what is wrong (diagnosis), what is going
to happen (prognosis), what can be done about it (treatment),
and fnally what should be done to avoid complications and
spread (prevention) (i.e. ‘what’ of disease).