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Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology and Imaging Services provide vital diagnostic resources

Published: June 27, 2024 by Dylan Allen

Group photo of individuals seated in a laboratory.
Members of the Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology Service at UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry. Photo by Dylan Allen.
Overhead group photo standing around a cone-beam computed tomography system.
Led by Drs. Ritu Tiwari, Kavan Gandhi, and Erin Key, the Oral and Maxillofacial Rathology Service at UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry provides dental practitioners customized CBCT interpretation reports.

From within the Department of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences works a team of renowned clinicians who provide valuable insights into oral health conditions that may not be visible during a dental examination. These individuals make up UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry’s biopsy and radiology services.

Established over 20 years ago, the pathology and imaging services have prided themselves on serving the patient population quietly behind the scenes. Whether it’s diagnosing oral lesions of patients through a microscope lens or from a black and white image, the team of faculty members and residents collaborate to offer their highly-acclaimed biopsy and imaging services to dental practitioners across the country.

“Both of these services are a vital part of what we do at the School of Dentistry,” said Anita Joy-Thomas, BDS, PhD, chair of the Department of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences. “Not just from an educational perspective, but from a compassionate, person-centered, clinical care perspective. We are truly making a difference in patients’ lives, albeit in an indirect way.”

The Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology Services is a comprehensive, CLIA-certified, independent laboratory located within the School of Dentistry and boasts a nationwide reach. Through this service, board-certified oral and maxillofacial pathologists are committed to providing accurate diagnostic and prognostic information for referring dentists and medical specialists treating oral and maxillofacial disorders.

“Our laboratory is focused on providing clinicians and their patients with reliable diagnoses of oral and maxillofacial diseases using state-of-the-art histopathologic, immunohistochemical, and molecular diagnostic procedures,” said Nadarajah Vigneswaran, BDS, DrMedDent, DMD, director of the biopsy services.

The unique combination of diagnostic and treatment services an oral pathologist provides patients and referring clinicians of the highest quality of care.

Along similar lines, radiologists in the Oral and Maxillofacial Imaging Services provide clear and accurate diagnoses from reviews and interpretations of a variety of clinical images such as radiographs, CBCTs, MRIs, and even sonograms.

Another advantage of the school’s biopsy and imaging services is the collaborative relationship with other experts within the Texas Medical Center, including The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Adding to the impact of the services are the rollout of new AI-driven digital pathology/radiology tools, qualified pathologists and radiologists, and a proven team of lab personnel with demonstrated years of experience.

“Most often, the patients don’t even see the pathologists or the radiologists, but the specialists play a very important role in helping our referring surgeons and doctors make crucial decisions in providing the highest standards of care for their patients,” said Joy-Thomas.

With greater reach comes greater impact, which is an aspect of both the pathology and imaging services that has been critical to their success. The laboratory sends out biopsy kits to any doctor who requests them, which connects them to the school’s services by having the tissue samples packaged appropriately to be examined by the pathology team. Referring dentists can send their CBCTs or other radiographic images for interpretation and diagnostic reports through an easy-to-use interface. The pathologists and radiologists are also available for consultations virtually, as needed by the practicing community.

The Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology Services is located in the School of Dentistry and is open Monday through Friday. To request a biopsy kit, email [email protected].

The Oral and Maxillofacial Imaging Services is located in the School of Dentistry and is open Monday through Friday. A referral process is available to request patient imaging or submit an imaging study for interpretation.

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