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blood cells, virus cells, microscope and blood samples

What is Pathology?

Pathology is a branch of medical science that focuses on the study and diagnosis of disease. This involves the examination of surgically removed organs, tissues (biopsy samples), bodily fluids (such as blood, urine and faeces) and in some cases the whole body (autopsy). Pathology is fundamental to almost all aspects of patient care, from diagnosing cancer to managing chronic illness through accurate laboratory testing.

Why do I need a Pathology test?

The healthcare professional responsible for your care may request a Pathology test to

  • confirm or exclude the presence of a particular disease, and provide final diagnosis (e.g. cancer)
  • help monitor the progress of a disease or condition (e.g. diabetes, thyroid disease)
  • monitor the effectiveness of treatments and therapies (e.g. warfarin therapy)
  • help prevent or minimise the transmission of infectious disease (e.g. Covid-19, measles)
  • help prepare a patient for treatment (e.g. cross matching for blood transfusion, pre-operative bloods)
  • screen for specific disease to help reduce the incidence of death and illness (e.g. bowel screening)
  • form part of a routine health check for early detection of disease.

Where does my Pathology sample go?

Your sample will be directed to the correct Pathology speciality dependent upon the sample type and test that has been requested. Your labelled sample will be attached to the correct Pathology request form, along with your demographic details including your hospital or NHS number, and crucially the test(s) that is required. Other details will also be included such as the name of the ward or GP practice you are attending, name of the requesting clinician and the date and time the sample was taken. The request form and the details included will help direct the sample to the correct laboratory and ensure your Pathology result is as accurate as possible.

When will I receive my Pathology result?

The length of time your Pathology sample will take to process is dependent on the type of test requested, this can vary greatly from hours to days and in many cases weeks. The healthcare professional that has requested your Pathology test will be able to provide you with information on when to expect your results during your consultation or appointment. More detailed information regarding tests provided and their expected turn around time can be found by contacting the relevant pathology service (see contact information)

As soon as your sample has been processed your result will be available electronically. This means that the doctor, GP or other healthcare professional that requested your sample can access your result through a computer system. If you are waiting to receive a Pathology result you will need to contact the healthcare professional responsible for your care.

please do not contact Pathology laboratories directly for results as we are not authorised to give results directly to patients.

Any expected significant delays to test results that could potentially impact patient care will be communicated from Pathology to healthcare professionals throughout the Health Board. As a patient this information will be accessible to you through the appropriate healthcare professional.



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