Pathologists use new tools but are not defined by them.
Article Type: Editorial
Subject: Medical practice software (Usage)
Pathologists (Practice)
Pathologists (Technology application)
Author: Davis, Gregory J.
Pub Date: 01/01/2010
Publication: Name: Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine Publisher: College of American Pathologists Audience: Academic; Professional Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 College of American Pathologists ISSN: 1543-2165
Issue: Date: Jan, 2010 Source Volume: 134 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Physician practice management software; Technology application
Product: Product Code: 7372466 Health Practitioner Software Pkgs (Micro NAICS Code: 51121 Software Publishers SIC Code: 7372 Prepackaged software
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 230416483
Full Text: In keeping with the need for us, as pathologists, to engage in transformation and to reinvent ourselves as a profession, (1) Flach et al (2) at the University of Bern's Institute of Forensic Medicine (Bern, Switzerland) have eloquently shown how the use of technologies heretofore thought of as not belonging to the bailiwick of pathologists may actually be a critical adjunct study to be used with the traditional autopsy examination. In an age in which popular entertainment has given rise to unrealistic expectations of the postmortem, with fantastical notions of what information may be gleaned from it, the authors have shown that the reality of our profession can be informative, exciting, and at the frontier of medicine. Pathologists must embrace and use new technologies in our daily practice, else we are not giving our patients, living or deceased, the excellent medical care that they deserve, nor their families, law enforcement, public health officials, and others, the information they need from the performance of such postmortem examinations.

See also p 115.

The authors innovatively use preexisting technology in a new fashion, showing how minimally invasive computed tomography angiography may serve as a useful adjunct to the traditional autopsy of gross and microscopic inspection. Such technologic adaptation has the potential to assist in the more efficient use of autopsy resources and to aid when consent and/or resources are limited. (3) Pathologists must not be intimidated by such new uses of preexisting technology or by the adaptation to our practice of ever-evolving technologies. We must not rationalize clinging to old ways with the claim that "We've always done it that way," and we must also not fall into the trap of defining ourselves by our tools (oral communication, Jared Schwartz, MD, PhD, Immediate Past President, College of American Pathologists, June 2008). Just as a family physician who uses chest radiographs is still a family physician and an obstetrician who uses ultrasound technology is still an obstetrician, we will remain pathologists upon adaptation of computed tomography or any technology, defined not by the instruments we use, but rather, by our experience, education, training, and the intelligence and wisdom with which we use them.


(1.) College of American Pathologists. CAP campaign for the transformation of the specialty of pathology Web site. transformation/campaign.overview.html. Published 2008. Accessed March 10, 2009.

(2.) Flach PM, Ross SG, Bolliger SA, Preiss US, Thali MJ, Spendlove D. Postmortem whole-body computed tomography angiography visualizing vascular rupture in a case of fatal car crash. Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2010;134(1):115-119.

(3.) Aghayev E, Ebert LC, Christe A, et al. CT data-based navigation for postmortem biopsy--a feasibility study. J Forensic Leg Med. 2008;15(6):382-387.

Gregory J. Davis, MD

Accepted for publication March 31, 2009.

From the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky.

The author has no relevant financial interest in the products or companies described in this article.

Reprints: Gregory J. Davis, MD, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Kentucky, 800 Rose St, Ste MS117, Lexington, Kentucky, 40536-0298 (e-mail:
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