Minnesota Medicine Goes behind the Scenes with Mayo Clinic Pathologists

Jennifer Boland, M.D.
Jennifer Boland, M.D.

“Pathology is a visual science. I found it more enjoyable than memorizing notes.” This is the perspective of Jennifer Boland, M.D., a pathologist at Mayo Clinic, who was recently interviewed by Minnesota Medicine for its October coverage of pathologists in Minnesota. In addition to Dr. Boland, Minnesota Medicine took a closer look at Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories. Established in 1971, Mayo Medical Laboratories provides services to 4,000 medical centers in 64 countries, performing 20 million tests each year at 64 subspecialty laboratories housed on the Mayo campus. Most clients use Mayo Medical Laboratories for esoteric tests or tests for which they don’t have the equipment or expertise or that aren’t economical for them to perform.

Dr. Boland, one of 332 pathologists in Minnesota, began practicing at Mayo three years ago, after completing a pathology residency as well as pulmonary and surgical pathology fellowships. She specializes in pulmonary and bone and soft-tissue pathology, while her expertise is in lung and chest sarcomas.

Dr. Boland evaluates 25 to 50 specimens each day, which come from around the world for Mayo Medical Laboratories or from Mayo Clinic patients. "Every case is a question: What is it? And, what are the questions I must ask myself to arrive at the correct diagnosis?" Dr. Boland says. "We're in the unique position of combining what we learn in the lab with what's learned in the clinic and in radiology to arrive at a diagnosis. Pathology is really a foundation of medicine."

Gary Keeney, M.D.
Gary Keeney, M.D.

Gary Keeney, M.D., an anatomic pathology consultant for Mayo Medical Laboratories, also weighed in on the discussion with a rare case. According to the article, two years ago, Dr. Keeney identified an immature teratoma in the thyroid gland of a pediatric patient. "I didn't even know they could occur as a primary tumor in a thyroid," Dr. Keeney said. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime case." He then saw another one just like it three months later. "The more curve balls you see, the better you get at hitting them," Dr. Keeney added.

According to the article, Mayo Medical Laboratories is the only pathology lab in the country that has a freezing microtome, which freezes tissue faster and at a colder temperature than a cryostat. “It allows us to get reliable sections on tissues that are very difficult to section with a cryostat,” Dr. Keeney says. “One example is fatty breast
tissue. Our breast tissue margins are analyzed while the patient is still on the
operating table.”

According to Dr. Keeney’s analysis, Mayo Clinic returns two percent of breast
lumpectomy patients for a second surgery for positive margins. The national
average is 18 percent.

Read the full article to learn more about Minnesota's pathologists and the unique field of pathology.

Kelley Luedke (@kschrib)

Kelley Luedke

Kelley Luedke is a Marketing Channel Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She is the principle editor and writer of Insights and leads social media and direct marketing strategy. Kelley has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2013. Outside of work, you can find Kelley running, traveling, playing with her kitty, and exploring new foods.