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Medical specialty dealing with causes of disease and structural and functional changes in abnormal conditions. As autopsies, initially prohibited for religious reasons, became more accepted in the late Middle Ages, people learned more about the causes of death. In 1761 Giovanni Battista Morgagni (1682–1771) published the first book to locate disease in individual organs. In the mid-19th century the humoral theories of infection were replaced first by cell-based theories (seeRudolf Virchow) and then by the bacteriologic theories of Robert Koch and Louis Pasteur. Today pathologists work mostly in the laboratory and consult with a patient's physician after examining specimens including surgically removed body parts, blood and other fluids, urine, feces, and discharges. Culturing of infectious organisms, staining, fibre-optic endoscopy, and electron microscopy have greatly expanded the information available to the pathologist.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on pathology, visit Britannica.com.