Pathology FAQs

Below is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the Virginia Mason's Pathology Department.

  1. What is pathology and who are pathologists?
  2. What should I do if I want my slides reviewed by the Virginia Mason Pathology Department or a specific pathologist at Virginia Mason?
  3. What should I do if I have an appointment at another medical facility and would like my slides reviewed there?
  4. What should I do if I need more information about my pathology report?

1. What is pathology and who are pathologists?
Pathology means "the study of disease." Anatomic pathologists are physicians who use a variety of specimen types, including tissue biopsies, organs removed at surgery, and cells acquired for cytological examination (Pap smears, fine needle aspiration of various sites) to make diagnosis. The diagnosis is then shared with your health care team to determine appropriate treatment for you. They work with a team of technical professionals including histotechnologists, cytotechnologists, pathology assistants, lab assistants and transcriptions to manage your specimen efficiently and effectively.

Clinical pathologists are laboratory medicine physicians who ensure high-quality laboratory results for our patients, utilizing a variety of specimen types including: blood, urine, body fluids and cultures to analyze and report to your physician as an important part of reaching a diagnosis. Both anatomic and clinical pathologists are medical doctors who have done residences in anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, or both. Many have subspecialty training in particular areas of pathology as well.

2. What should I do if I want my slides reviewed by the Virginia Mason Pathology Department or a specific pathologist at Virginia Mason?
First, contact the Pathology Department at the institution that has managed your specimen. Tell them that you would like your slides sent to Virginia Mason at the following address:

  • 1100 Ninth Ave., M.S. C6-PTH
    Seattle, WA 98101

Telephone: (206) 223-6861

The outside institution may ask you to sign a Release of Information form, and can help you through this process. If you would like a particular Virginia Mason pathologist to review your slides, please ask them to note who you would like on the request. They can print our Pathology Materials for Review form to use in referring the slides to us. We will also need billing information to process your request.

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3. What should I do if I have an appointment at another medical facility and would like my slides reviewed there?
You may print and fill out the Patient Release of Information, which can then be faxed to (206) 341-0525. Once we have received this request, we will forward the materials to the pathology office of the outside facility. You may be billed for this review by the outside institution. We do not charge for sending the slides.

If you prefer to pick up your materials at your office, you will also need to sign a Patient Release of Information form when you arrive. You will also need the address of the outside facility and their contact information.

4. What should I do if I need more information about my pathology report?
Call your primary care physician or surgeon. They have access to the full report and should be able to answer any questions you may have, or can contact the pathologist for clarification. We would also refer you to the American Cancer Society for additional information about tumors of all types.

An additional resource is the "MyBiopsy" patient information service provided by the College of American Pathologists.