​Department of Pathology

Diagnostic Services


The Department of Pathology at the National Health Laboratory Services Tygerberg and Stellenbosch University offers a comprehensive diagnostic pathology service to patients at Tygerberg Hospital and at the hospitals and clinics in its drainage area, while the Division of Forensic Medicine focuses on the provision of forensic pathology services. Almost the entire academic platform including training, teaching and research is based upon the service platform.

Areas of specific importance include the fine needle aspiration clinic and on-site cytological diagnostic service that revolutionised the practice of many clinicians and the management of patients. The Division of Anatomical Pathology offers specialised serves in neonatal and paediatric pathology, neuropathology, dermatopathology, renal pathology, flow cytometry and electron microscopy. A new molecular pathology laboratory was established recently to focus on neoplastic- and metabolic diseases and to supplement the well-established molecular facilities in infectious diseases.

Through the Division of Chemical Pathology the Department has an established interest in laboratory management and quality assurance and offers national workshops and seminars on related topics.

The Division of Hematopathology provides specialised and often unique services in the complex field of coagulation disorders. Selected molecular pathology tests are available for the diagnosis of neoplastic diseases and certain coagulation disorders such as Factor V Leiden mutation.

The Division of Medical Microbiology provides an extensive diagnostic service and recently expanded and updated its infrastructure to manage the continuous increase in the number of TB specimens. The Division incorporates the Immunology Section that has a special interest and expertise in primary immunodeficiencies.

The Division of Medical Virology offers a comprehensive range of diagnostic tests in its virus isolation, viral serology and molecular diagnostics sections. It does large numbers of HIV viral load tests as part of the national antiretroviral roll-out. The Tygerberg laboratory is the only one that performs diagnostic antiretroviral resistance testing within the NHLS and receives samples nationwide for this purpose. It is now developing a strong partnership with its sister virology laboratory in Umtata, Eastern Cape, with an aim to develop state-of-the-art diagnostic services there. Medical Virology also conducts the laboratory testing for specimens from the Western Cape as part of the national HIV and syphilis antenatal surveys, conducted annually to estimate HIV prevalence in pregnant women.

The Division of Medical Virology, being the first division to become SANAS-accredited in 2002, now plays an important role assisting the other divisions to prepare for accreditation. All divisions are in progress with preparations towards SANAS accreditation that is expected to realise in 2007.