Reporting

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Author: Mikael Häggström [notes 1]

General notes edit

Following are general notes on reporting in pathology.

Components

Selection and trimming

From the stage of selection and trimming, a histopathology report should preferably include:

  • Case:
  • Patient identification and/or sample number
  • Type of tissue sample as described on container
  • Dimensions of original tissue[1]
  • Directions or other features of any inked surfaces.
  • Generally the weight of larger samples[1]
  • Dimensions of pathologic components[1]
  • Whether the entire specimen or representative sections were submitted.

Microscopic evaluation

  • Specimen chronology, often A, B, C, etc., at least where there are multiple specimens from the same case. With multiple specimens, preferably write out the chronology for all of them first, so that you don't miss reporting any of them later.
  • Specimen type and/or surgery type, such as "appendix, appendectomy", for clarification. This is not necessary at all departments.
  • Findings. This is not always necessary, but should be included if the diagnosis is uncertain. One systematic approach is to describe findings from largest to smallest ones. For example, a description of a tumor can start with the demarcation of the tumor, followed by texture, cell shapes, nucleus shapes and chromatin appearance.
  • Diagnosis or most probable diagnoses.
  • In case of malignancy or suspected malignancy:
  • Depth or most distant invasion of malignant findings.[1] Depending on location, it may need to exclude important pathways, such as vascular, neural and/or through capsules or other layers.
  • Whether the resection is radical or not.

Depth

Factors supporting a relatively more comprehensive report, particularly in the inclusion of negated findings:

  • Lack of explanation from existing evidence. For example, an inflamed appendix that fits the medical history does not need detailed mention of harmless incidental findings.
  • Double-reading: If your report is likely to undergo double reading by another pathologist before sign-out, it needs to be more detailed, because the doctor who will do the double-reading then knows that you have looked at those locations.
  • Highly suspected locations, such as given from the referral.
  • Defensive precautions, which appears to be more common among doctors in the Unites States compared to for example Europe.[2][3]

Multiple instances of the same type of pathology (such as lung nodules) can often simply be reported as such, at least with a particular mention of the largest or the most severe example thereof.

Where findings are made, general statements of clearing a region should still be given, such as: "There is a 18.0 cm curvilinear well-healed thin scar in the left thorax. Otherwise, there are no puncture marks or healed surgical scars on the torso." The main exception is for aspects that are barely worth mentioning, in which case the description of the finding may imply that the aspect has been considered in general.

Uncertainty

Words, from
most likely to
least likely
(is)
probably
likely
suggestive
suspicious
possibly
(malignant condition)
cannot be excluded
not likely
(malignant condition)
cannot be excluded
not

When something looks very much like a specific entity but you are not sure, preferably use "-like" (or when feasible, "-oid" such as squamoid for squamous-like cells).

For likely but not definite diagnoses, findings may be described as "consistent with" or "bordering on" a specific diagnosis.

For both findings and diagnoses, is preferable to write "negative for..." rather than "no..." to emphasize the possibility of false negative findings.

Synoptic reports

For cancers, generally include a synoptic report, such as per College of American Pathologists (CAP) protocols at cap.org/protocols-and-guidelines. However, synoptic reports are generally not needed for tumor metastases.

Sizes

Whenever possible, give numerical quantities of sizes, rather than descriptions that are subjective (such as "small" or "large") or variable (such as "apple-sized").

Tailoring

The information contained in the reporting sections in Patholines assume that the clinician has requested the exam for the topic of the article at hand, but should be tailored to any particular questions or requests by the clinician. Any relevant findings beyond the issues or questions raised by the clinician should also be mentioned.

The most important findings can be moved to near the top of the report if feasible, but doctors performing subsequent double-reading may prefer a consistent anatomic order.

If a certain grammatical rule has a risk of making the report less clear to the reader, ignore it.

Restrict acronyms/abbreviations to those who are certainly well known among all doctors, such as "cm".[notes 2]

Generally describe what can be seen rather than processes (such as preferring "an abundance of" rather than "proliferation of").

Skin excisions

In skin cancers, use "peripheral" or "radial" margins (whereas "lateral" margin should be reserved for the margin opposite to the medial margin).[4]

See also

Notes

  1. For a full list of contributors, see article history. Creators of images are attributed at the image description pages, seen by clicking on the images. See Patholines:Authorship for details.
  2. Acronyms/abbreviations increase reading speed only if the reader is familiar with the abbreviated terms:

Main page

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 . An Example of a Melanoma Pathology Report. Melanoma Foundation. Retrieved on 2019-09-24.
  2. Studdert D. M.; Mello M. M.; Sage W. M.; DesRoches C. M.; Peugh J.; Zapert K.; Brennan T. A. (2005). "Defensive medicine among high-risk specialist physicians in a volatile malpractice environment ". JAMA 293 (21): 2609–2617. doi:10.1001/jama.293.21.2609. PMID 15928282. 
  3. Steurer J.; Held U.; Schmidt M.; Gigerenzer G.; Tag B.; Bachmann L. M. (2009). "Legal concerns trigger PSA testing ". Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 15 (2): 390–392. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2753.2008.01024.x. PMID 19335502. 
  4. David Slater, Paul Barrett. Standards and datasets for reporting cancers - Dataset for histopathological reporting of primary cutaneous basal cell carcinoma. The Royal College of Pathologists. February 2019