Thursday, January 29, 2009


Many budding pathologists, be it veterinary or medical, are finding it very difficult to grasp and master the art and science (at least to me) of describing microscopic findings.

There is no short cut about it. You just have to learn the technique from your seniors.

It is very strange that description being the bread and butter of the pathologist's work, there is not much written on this subject!

When I first did my MSc in Vet. Pathology and got myself involved in much diagnostic pathology works over in UGA, I was amazed at how good the professors were at describing microscopic lesions.

They told me that all the descriptive lingo were in their heads. They did not have to squeeze their brains to come up with appropriate words. The words just flowed out freely.

It is important that we use good English in our description. By doing so, not only the reader will appreciate it, we the writer will not find writing a boring task.


1. You find plenty of bacteria on the surface of the intestinal villi

You may write:

There are plenty of bacteria on the surface of the villi - what do you think of this sentence? Boring and dull.

What about this?

The surface of the villi is lined by clouds of bacteria

2. You are describing lung tissue where the alveoli are filled with necrotic debris and bacterial colonies

You may write:

There are necrotic debris and bacterial colonies in the alveoli.

Compare with this:

The alveoli are markedly distended with necrotic cellular debris admixed with numerous bacterial colonies

The same is true in coming up with morphologic diagnoses.
Don't just say pneumonia, but say Multifocal necrotizing purulent bronchointerstitial pneumonia with intralesional fungal hyphae

Please read Wednesday Slide Conference of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) for their excellent and detailed description and morphologic diagnoses.

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