Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Last week there I was in Veterinary Research Institute (VRI) Ipoh presenting my journey as a diagnostic veterinary pathologist to fellow members of the recently established Malaysian Veterinary Pathologist Associaton and department's budding pathologists.

It was the first time I narrated in details how I came to love and finally became passionate with pathology.

Dato' Dr Anwar was there too. He smiled when he heard his name mentioned in several parts of my talk.

Questions arose from the floor asking whether there was a future for pathologists, especially in the era of molecular technologies.

I answered yes, nothing can take away the noble role of pathologists (good ones off course) in disease investigations.

Pathologists are not only dealing with dead animals or human as many believe. Pathologists deal with the living as well as with the dead, trying to find out why the animals were sick, not producing well, or dead.

To be a good pathologist is the question. He or she must be knowledgable in multi disciplines in Veterinary science in order for him to do well.

The outcome of many disease investigation will depend on the quality of samples coming in, the history of the disease or condition, the clinical signs, etc.

He should not be blamed for not coming with a good diagnosis if what he received was just a piece of liver, lung, heart and spleen in formalin.
In such situations, the best he could give was to give a morphologic diagnosis...and if he was lucky, there was some pathognomonic lesions, then he could come up with a disease diagnosis.

The need and relevance of veterinary pathologists will depend on so many things - the public love of animals and how far they are willing to spend on their pets' welfare in as far as diasease diagnosis and treatment.

Here in Malaysia, Veterinarians in clinics just remove lumps and bumps found in pets without sending them to pathologists to know wht they are.

Why? Tests and cancer treatments are expensive and owners are not willing to pay.

In the US, lumps and bumps are sent to pathologists to know what they are -benign or malignant growth. Knowing what they actually are, Veterinarians then could prescribe radiotherapy or chemotherapy for treating the cancer.

Also, many forget the fact that it was the pathologists who discovered so many diseases. Diseases like BSE, West Nile Virus, Nipah virus, etc are discovered by pathologists!

Pathologists will continue to be needed in the far future. They should be working closely with people from other disciplines to achieve what they are for.

Stand alone pathologists cannot survive in this time and age, and so are molecular technologists!

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