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Anatomical Pathology

The Anatomical Pathology Department at LabPLUS is a major referral laboratory comprising of several disciplines. These include Cytology, Histology and Electron Microscopy. We work with other external hospitals from around New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. This means we report on a broad range of specimens and to service this diversity we have an experienced team with specialist knowledge. We are fortunate to have a large number of Consultant Pathologists with considerable experience. We also have a very proficient Scientific and Technical staff all working together to provide a quality service.

Our methods, training, expertise and knowledge conform to the highest standards expected by our peers and the community at large. We enjoy a close association with the University of Auckland Medical School and participate in external Quality Assurance Programmes initiated by the Royal College of Pathologists (Australia).

Key Contacts

  • Clinical Lead - Anatomical Pathology, LabPLUS Dr Mike Watson
  • Operations Manager - Anatomical Pathology LabPLUS, Community Anatomic Pathology Services, and National Perinatal Pathology Service (NPPS)  Philippa Coles
  • Scientist Unit Manager - Anatomical Pathology LabPLUS  Joe McDermott
  • Clinical Lead - NPPS Dr Jane Zuccollo
  • Team Administrator and Coordinator - NPPS Ainslee Jacobson

The Cytology Department provides a quality service, processing both non-gynecological and gynecological specimens. These are prepared, stained and microscopically examined by our experienced and well-qualified staff.


We process a variety of specimens, these include:

  • Effusions
  • Urines
  • Respiratory
  • Fine needle aspirates (FNA) from many sources including:
    • Lymph nodes
    • Breast
    • Thyroid
    • Lung
    • Liver
    • to name a few

Our pathologists perform FNAs and also attend FNA clinics. They provide histology and cytology correlation, training for registrars and attend multidisciplinary meetings.

Gynecological (ThinPrep Cervical Smears)

As a hospital based laboratory our workload primarily involves referral, high-risk and follow-up cases, which increases the rate of abnormalities. These cases are screened by two scientists and reported by a pathologist if abnormal. We use ThinPrep liquid based technology for analysis of gynecological specimens.

Scientists are involved in teaching university students both on placement in the lab and at Auckland University of Technology.

Reporting System for Cervical Cytology

Since July 2005 a New Zealand modification of the Bethesda System 2001 has been implemented nationally in laboratories on all gynaecological smears. Reports will have:

  • Precise and standardised terminology,
  • significant reduction in codes,
  • removal of "satisfactory but limited" category and
  • new layout with headings:
    • Adequacy (satisfactory or unsatisfactory)
    • General (negative or abnormal)
    • Interpretation (infection; reactive; abnormality)
    • Recommendation (repeat or referral)

For more information, please visit these websites:

Ministry of Health - National Cervical Screening Programme

American Society of Cytopathology

The Histology Department provides routine hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stain and also a large variety of special stains. We also offer the more specialised techniques of:

  • Direct Immunofluorescence
  • Muscle Histochemistry
  • Frozen Sections
  • Immunohistochemistry (more than 160 diagnostic antibodies are available)

A 24 hour on-call service is available.


Our Immunohistochemistry section offers over 160 primary antibodies, ranging from hormone receptor localisation to detection of the more specialised proteins in tumour differentiation.

The antibodies we use are produced by well-known and proven manufacturers such as Dako, Cell Margue and Novacastra, and to compliment this quality we are fully automated with 3 Ventana Benchmark Ultra machines.

We can also offer Direct Immunofluorescence for fresh tissues such as skin or renal biopsies.

The electron microscopy (EM) laboratory processes tissue for ultrastructural examination by Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), and is based at the Biomedical Imaging Research Unit (BIRU) at the School of Medicine of the University of Auckland. The microscope used is a Tecnai(TM) G2 Spirit TWIN Transmission Electron Microscope which houses a Morada camera from Olympus-Soft Imaging Systems, capturing images using iTEM software from Olympus.

We routinely perform TEM on tissues such as native renal and muscle biopsies as well as tumour material. We can also provide images of non-histological tissue as required. The images we produce are supplied for your convenience on CD-ROM together with, if required, a written description of observations from one of our scientists. If a written diagnostic report is required then this must be discussed with one of our Pathologists in the first instance before any samples are sent.

To make use of this service please contact either the department directly so we can arrange a supply of fixative and delivery instructions, or visit the LabPLUS Test Guide for more details.

Please see here for information about the BIRU at the School of Medicine