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difference between pathology and pathophysiology?

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by Bevo, Apr 1, 2004.

  1. Bevo

    Bevo Radiology, R1
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    Ive heard both terms and was wondering if the terms are inter-changeable(sp?) or are they distinct courses of study.
     
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  3. rxfudd

    rxfudd 1K Member
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    I think they're pretty distinct, but there's a lot of overlap in information. Pathophys can be thought of as clinical pathology - lab values, symptoms, basic mechanisms of disease. Pathology is more the study of the tissues themselves and how they change in disease state. I think of pathology as more related to the science of disease than the clinical aspects of disease. So for example, in diabetes, pathology would explain how the pancreas changes, genetic links, what you can expect to see on histological examination, risk factors, symptoms, etc. Pathophys would help you understand what you might see on a chem 7 (Na, K, Cl, bicarb, BUN, creatinine, and glucose), how these values will fluctuate post-treatment, systemic effects (in this case, renal and pulmonary) that you might expect to see, etc.
     
  4. punjabiMD

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    pathology= classification and description of disease.
    pathophysiology= the physiologic mechanism leading to disease/pathology.
     
  5. Hmmm, thought it was slightly different...pathophysiology is the way physiology is affected by pathologic processes.

    So, for example, take a patient with asthma...the pathophysiology would be how the asthmatic disease process affects the function of the lungs.
     
  6. jed2023

    jed2023 Senior Member
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    There is a lot of overlap between the terms, pathology and pathophysiology, and many people use them interchangeably. But I think there is a difference in emphasis. Straight pathology is more heavily oriented toward the anatomy and histology associated with different diseases: you go through lots of slides showing histological changes, you see gross specimens in lab, anatomic changes are described. Pathophysiology is more oriented towards the physiological disruptions that result from different diseases and the mechanisms that underlie them: you read about what physiological processes are altered, how this alters homeostasis, what, if any, compensatory mechanisms result.

    I can tell you that for some of our path blocks, reading Robbins (which has some pathophys but mostly path) did next to squat. It doesn't focus on explanations of how you relate disease processes in different organ systems to the physiological disturbances that result. Straight path is more about "what" (similar to anatomy) and pathophys is more concerned with "why" (similar to physiology).

    If you want a more concrete feeling for what I am talking about, compare the two review books, BRS Pathology and Pathophysiology for the Boards and Wards. The former just describes lots of diseases and their major highlights. The latter does much of the same but also has explanations with arrows going up and down, flow charts, and more answers to the question, "Why?"
     
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  7. punjabiMD

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    If you want to really understand pathophysiology, I very highly recommend just reading up on the specific disease in Harrison's. Not many things come as close in terms of comprehensive information. For my pathophysiology class (PBL), there are three books I swear by: Robbins (for gross/micro changes), Harrison's (for all other info), and Pathophysiology for the Boards and Wards (succint information, excellent for a quick read on the pathophys as well as for clinical diagnosis). Any questions not answered by these sources I then find in disease-specific texts and research literature.
     

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