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Neuropathology is the study of central and peripheral nervous system disease. Pathology residents, neurology residents, neurosurgery residents and occasional medical students are eligible for neuropathology rotations, usually for one month each. Brains removed at autopsy are later studied at Gross Neuropathology Conference, held once a week. Pathologic study of the human nervous system requires that we have a thorough knowledge of the normal state. We cover normal gross anatomy as well as carefully describing abnormalities of the brain.
When we are not in the autopsy suite, we devote considerable effort to microscopy of tissues removed by surgeons, i.e. biopsies of brain tumors, muscle biopsies, and nerve biopsies. We must be able to differentiate localized infectious processes from tumors, and non-malignant from malignant tumors. Inflammatory myopathies and neuropathies are examples of non-neoplastic processes diagnosed by biopsy. This tissue examination helps physicians choose the correct medical treatments for their patients with neuromuscular maladies.
Ophthalmic pathology, also studied in our laboratory, has fallen under the aegis of many neuropathologists around the country. First-year ophthalmology residents spend one month in the laboratory prior to the start of their clinical training. An important part of their experience is learning how tissues are processed and embedded, information that is often poorly communicated to medical students during their second-year pathology courses. Residents review cases from UMMC files as well as from the division's extensive collection of eye pathology slides.
Medical students and residents who can elect research time have several opportunities in UMMC neuropathology to observe techniques and to participate. Dr. Junming Wang, in the Pathology department, has projects in Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Parminder Vig is a neuroscientist in Neurology who is also interested in neurodegenerative diseases, particularly in the spinocerebellar ataxias. Finally, as the MIND Center at UMMC expands, a nascent brain bank could provide possibilities for studying the frequency of atherosclerosis, complicated by vascular dementia, in Mississippians. Each of the patients coming to autopsy will have been studied clinically over several decades.
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