The pathologist begins examination of the specimen by dictating a description of the specimen as it looks to the naked eye. This is referred to as the gross or macroscopic examination. Most biopsies are small, nondescript bits of tissue, so the gross description is brief and serves mostly as a way to identify the biopsied organ. The pathologist then examines the tissue sample on a glass slide under a microscope. This is referred to as the microscopic examination. The purpose of the gross examination, the processing of the tissue, and the microscopic examination is to build a logical argument toward a brief assessment of what significance the biopsy has in regard to the patient's health.


By Edward O. Uthman, MD. (
Diplomate, American Board of Pathology
This article is provided as is without any express or implied warranties. While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, the author assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from use of the information herein.

Copyright © 1994, Edward O. Uthman. This material may be reformatted and/or freely distributed via online services or other media, as long as it is not substantively altered. Authors, educators, and others are welcome to use any ideas presented herein, but I would ask for acknowledgment in any published work derived therefrom.