Podiatric Pathology

What Is Podiatric Pathology?

Podiatric pathologists are experts in researching and diagnosing diseases in the bone, skin, and soft tissue in the lower leg.

Podiatric pathologists work with podiatrists, dermatologists, and orthopedic specialists. Their work may provide information critical for treating diseases affecting the lower extremities.

Podiatric pathologists study specimens from the lower limbs, including:

  • Aspirates
  • Bone
  • Cysts
  • Excisions
  • Foreign bodies
  • Nails
  • Skin
  • Soft tissue
  • Tumors

What Do Podiatric Pathologists Study?

Podiatric pathology studies diseases that occur in the lower extremities. A podiatric pathologist must have extensive knowledge of medicine. A pathologist may examine tissue samples to diagnose and advise treatment or determine an illness’s cause. They have a broad understanding of many conditions, including the following:

  • Abscess
  • Bacterial and fungal infections
  • Cysts
  • Dermatitis
  • Gout
  • Lipomas
  • Inflammatory dermatoses
  • Melanoma
  • Onychomycosis
  • Onychoschizia
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Tinea
  • Tophus
  • Vasculitis
  • Verruca

What’s The Difference Between a Podiatrist and a Podiatric Pathologist?

A podiatrist is a doctor you might see for preventive care, treatment of illnesses and chronic conditions, and health education related to the ankle, foot, and leg. Podiatrists are specially trained to examine, diagnose, and treat many conditions.

A podiatric pathologist works in a laboratory. If a podiatrist doesn’t have enough information to make a diagnosis or needs confirmation, they can send tissue from a biopsy or bodily fluids to the pathologist for further study.

Techniques to Identify Podiatric Diseases and Conditions

Like all areas of pathology, podiatric pathologists use specialized techniques, tools, and processes to investigate abnormal cells. Some methods and tools they use include:

  • Stains. Chemicals or stains can be applied to tissue samples to highlight signs of disease or cell abnormalities.
  • Direct immunofluorescence. A special type of staining that helps identify autoimmune diseases.
  • Frozen section. A sample can be frozen and examined immediately if a diagnosis is needed quickly, like during surgery.
  • Immunohistochemistry. This technique uses the body’s antibodies to help identify the interaction between the antibodies and antigens triggering the immune system.
  • Electron microscopy. A special type of microscope that uses a beam of electrons instead of light allows pathologists to examine otherwise invisible cell structures.
  • Flow cytometry. A technique of analyzing the identity and quantity of a cell or particle. Flow cytometry can measure characteristics like cell size and total DNA. Samples are suspended in fluid and passed through different light sources, lenses, and filters to generate wavelength data.

What Do Results Look Like?

The results of a pathological examination are documented in a biopsy or pathology report, which includes information like:

  • A diagnosis
  • A description of the tissue sample
  • A microscopic description of the disease process discovered
  • Clinical information that helped support the diagnosis
  • Additional information to help determine treatment
  • If cancer is found, it may also contain information like how deep the cancer has penetrated the skin
  • Comments from the pathologist

The report is sent to the treating doctor, who will discuss the results with the patient.

Board-Certified Podiatric Pathology

All Pathology Reference Lab pathologists perform Podiatric Pathology.