Gross Examination

Author: Carla Lopes. See authors page.
Last edited: Pathologika, September 9, 2019
Cite this page: Lopes, CB., Gross Examination – Pathologika.[Accessed: date].
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Gross examination – Why?

Gross examination of organs and tissue specimens is fundamental to the practice of pathology. The purpose of gross examination is to help establish a diagnosis; For this, representative fragments of lesions / organs are selected for further microscopic examination and special studies.

Diagnostics based on gross examination can be made accurately on up to 90% of samples. This is the importance of gross description. However, for macroscopy pathology be of help in establishing a diagnosis, knowledge, precision and elegance in gross descriptions are required. If a gross examination fails, the quality of surgical pathology practice and inevitably the quality of the diagnosis and the patient are clearly affected.

Traditionally, gross description was only made by the pathologist. Ultimately, with a growing number of pathology assistants interested in this area, as well as a shortage of pathologists, these functions are done in partnership with the pathological anatomy technologist. In fact, this has been happening for several decades in some US laboratories (pathologists assistants) in Northern Ireland as well as in the United Kingdom.

The work team in the gross room should consist of a variable combination of two people (technician / technician, technician / physician).
It is critical that there is a trusting relationship in the team and that you have the right skills (through specialization course or in-service training) based on sufficient knowledge, time, experience and flexibility.

In recent years, a pathology has evolved and is associated with highly sophisticated techniques of genetic and molecular analysis, fundamental for the diagnosis and even for therapy determination.

Despite these and other changes in medical and pathology practice, careful examination of the gross specimen is still the sine qua non of surgical and pathology practice.


Geller S.A., Horowitz R.E. (2014) Gross Examination. In: Day C. (eds) Histopathology. Methods in Molecular Biology (Methods and Protocols), vol 1180. Humana Press, New York, NY