Under a microscope as well as the skilled eye of anatomic pathologist, your organs, tissues and cells reveal much about your health. Anatomic pathology focuses on identifying abnormalities—in the structure of whole organs to just a few cells—to zero in on disease development and progression. From polyps found during a screening colonoscopy for colon cancer to a suspicious mole removed during a routine dermatology visit, laboratory testing of these biospecimens provide important diagnostic information critical to treatment and prevention of a variety of conditions.

NorthShore’s Anatomic Pathology Laboratory offers a full range of services on all tissue types collected during biopsies done in the doctor’s office or outpatient procedures to surgeries performed in the operating room. Our group of anatomic pathologists features board-certified physicians who hold either MD or DO degrees. On faculty at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, many of them are fellowship-trained with advanced expertise not always found in all hospital-based pathology and laboratory medicine settings.

Often described as “doctors’ doctors,” our anatomic pathology specialists work closely with physicians in myriad medical and surgical disciplines throughout the NorthShore system as well as in our community. They frequently provide rapid onsite evaluations in our hospitals, consulting on procedures—from fine needle aspirations and core (“micro”) biopsy assessment to intraoperative consultations—to ensure adequate collection of patient specimens for optimal diagnosis and aiding surgeons with intraoperative management.

Our specialty areas and services include:

At NorthShore, we offer an extensive menu of the latest immunohistochemistry (IHC) antibodies. Our large catalog of tests allows us to perform most of this specialized testing in-house. IHC involves applying special stains to tissue and cell samples to help with the detection and evaluation of cancers (such as HER2 testing for breast cancer), infections and neurodegenerative disorders, to name a few conditions. For tumors, IHC can assist with determining therapeutic response to cancer-fighting agents. This testing process can also help to pinpoint cellular signatures of metastatic disease to better understand the original source of the cancer to guide treatment. 

We also offer tissue testing for genetic abnormalities, which aids tumor diagnosis, prognosis and therapy response via such techniques as fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and Next Generation Sequencing (NGS).

Surgical Pathology

Surgical pathology involves the examination of tissue biopsies and surgical resections for all manner of conditions. Working closely with our medical teams in the Kellogg Cancer Center and the Women’s Hospital, we have considerable experience diagnosing breast and gynecological as well as gastrointestinal and dermatological diseases. We also have special expertise in medical kidney biopsies, not always available at all hospital-based laboratories.

Our multidisciplinary team of pathology specialists includes board-certified neuropathologists and dermatopathologists. They provide an extra level of specialty expertise and consultative services above and beyond most community hospital systems.

Cytopathology

Cytopathology (also known as cytology) focuses on the analysis of individual cells collected from body fluids and small tissue samples for the detection and diagnosis of both benign and malignant disease.

The Pap test for screening cervical cancer remains the most common cytology test, with the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine processing some 30,000 Pap tests annually. At NorthShore, we have extensive experience processing and evaluating ThinPrep Pap Tests, a liquid-based test with higher sensitivity over the traditional Pap smear. Our laboratory uses the ThinPrep Imaging System, a sophisticated computer-assisted screening tool that combines automation and the expertise of our cytotechnologists and board-certified cytopathologists to ensure accurate and fast reporting of Pap results.

The Cytology Department also evaluates cells in a variety of body fluids, such as fluid in the chest or abdomen, cyst fluids, urine, and washing fluids done during bronchoscopy, mainly to assess for evidence of malignancy. We diagnose fine needle aspiration biopsies (performed by radiologists and other physicians) from almost every body site, including thyroid, salivary gland, lymph nodes, lung and abdominal organs. Most of our sophisticated testing such as IHC and molecular diagnostics can be applied to these samples.

The cytology team offers specialized outpatient services at Evanston Hospital to procure specimens for testing. Upon physician referral, our experienced cytopathologists can perform fine needle aspirations for the diagnostic workup superficial body site masses and certain diseases, such as amyloidosis. A rare disease, amyloidosis leads to the buildup of an abnormal protein (amyloid) that can lead to organ failure. NorthShore Cytopathology offers abdominal fat pad aspiration biopsy (FNAB), a fast, least-invasive test for the detection of systemic amyloidosis.

Hematopathology

Hematopathology deals with testing and diagnosis of blood diseases and disorders. NorthShore offers comprehensive diagnostic and prognostic expertise for a variety of hematopoietic conditions, including lymphomas, acute and chronic leukemias, benign hematologic disorders of the bone marrow and lymph nodes and anemias. Our dedicated board-certified hematopathologists provide expert review of significant diagnoses, ensuring timely interpretation of lab results to optimize initial and ongoing treatment planning.

We thoroughly evaluate a variety of hematology specimens collected from bone marrow, lymph nodes and peripheral blood, to name a few. Our full range of diagnostic services includes:

  • CBC
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH)
  • Flow cytometry
  • Molecular diagnostics
  • PCR

Autopsy

Autopsies can provide additional diagnostic information about cause of death due to disease, trauma and other reasons. NorthShore’s anatomic pathology team offers both adult and pediatric autopsy services upon a family’s request and consent.

Collaborating with the efforts of the Center for Brain Health at NorthShore Neurological Institute, our board-certified neuropathology specialists also perform brain-only autopsies for diagnostic and research purposes. These “directed donor” autopsies for NorthShore’s Brain Bank help provide valuable information to advance our understanding and future treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and traumatic brain injuries.

For more information about this initiative, contact John M. Lee, MD, PhD, at 847.570.2108.