Whenever tissue is removed from the body, it must be examined to determine the precise cause of the illness that prompted its removal. Microscopic analysis of tissue changes is the focus of anatomic pathology. The pathologist plays a central role in the diagnosis of surgically removed tissues, particularly when tumor is suspected, and works closely with surgeons and other physicians in such cases.
Often during surgery for suspected cancer, a pathologist is asked to prepare a frozen section. A piece of tissue is removed during the operation, frozen, thinly sliced, and prepared for rapid microscopic examination by the pathologist while the patient is still on the operating table. The preliminary diagnosis based on the frozen section guides the surgeon as to the next steps to take during surgery.
After the pathologist fixes the patient’s tissue samples the specimens will be thinly sliced, mounted on slides, and examined under a microscope.