Anatomical pathology

Anatomical pathology is the processing, examination, and diagnosis of surgical specimens in hospital and public mortuaries.

In the NHS, the healthcare science staff who work in hospital mortuaries are called anatomical pathology technologists (APTs). Outside the NHS, they also work in local authority public mortuaries.


Your role as an APT is varied and there are many different areas of expertise required. One of your main roles is to provide assistance to a pathologist in conducting post mortems. This is a vital area of work as understanding the causes of death enables better understanding of the disease process and in some cases, when death is unexpected, the cause of death can have legal implications.

The extent of involvement and responsibility you'll have as an APT during the post mortem examination will increase as you gain skills and knowledge.

Working life

As an APT, you’ll:

Who would I work with?

As an APT, you’ll liaise with a range of people including medical staff (for example pathologists and general practitioners), nursing staff, the police, funeral directors, chaplains or spiritual care personnel and the bereaved.

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