Pathology / Cytology

The histocytopathology department examines tissue/histological samples (biopsies, resections and surgical parts, etc.) as well as cytological samples (smears, cytopunctions, body fluids, etc.) from the hospital and outpatient sectors of the French-speaking Valais, the Upper Valais and the Riviera-Chablais region, offering a complete range of services, from outpatient or inpatient diagnosis to the examination of surgical parts.

The team is made up of a dozen pathologists and several doctors in training / assistant doctors or heads of clinic. With more than 28,000 histology files (and more than 50,000 samples) and 30,000 cytology cases per year, our department is one of the largest pathology departments in Switzerland, allowing the development of pathologists' areas of expertise, for quality care specific to each pathology and sub-specialty (uropathology, breast pathology, hepatic and gastrointestinal pathology, thoracic pathology...). The department's doctors take part in multidisciplinary meetings in the various hospitals (tumour boards and inflammatory diseases) and carry out extemporaneous examinations. A medical autopsy service is also provided.

The department has a high-performance immunohistochemistry platform and an integrated molecular pathology laboratory, offering a wide range of predictive, prognostic or diagnostic examinations, including high-throughput sequencing (NGS) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) (e.g. determination of HER2 status in breast cancer or the presence of activating mutations in lung cancer, colon cancer or melanoma, etc.), as part of precision and personalized medicine.

The department also collaborates with various university departments and institutions as well as with external organisations such as the SAKK in the field of research.



Pathology involves the study of diseases through the analysis of samples (biopsies of tissue or of operative items). These usually consist of surgical samples from Valais Hospital and from private clinics. Analyses of inflammations of the stomach, but also of all skin tumours, of cancers of the lungs or of the intestines are most frequently requested, along with screening for breast cancers and gynaecological cancers. Around 20,000 samples of patient tissue are analysed every year by the pathologists at the Histocytopathology Department of the Central Institute.

Cytology involves the study of isolated cells sampled using fine needles, typically of gynaecological samples for cervical cancer screening. In this field, the doctors at the Histocytopathology Department of the Central Institute carry out around 40,000 analyses a year. Most of them – around 34,000 – are connected to screening for cervical cancer. The rest are connected to cases of pleural or abdominal effusion, or screening for malignant cells in the urine. The samples frequently come from Valais Hospital, but many also come from gynaecologists and other doctors with their own practices.

These activities are carried out by the Histocytopathology Department of the Central Institute of hospitals, which also carries out medical autopsies enabling us to establish the medical cause of death and to establish a ‘cartography’ of the various diseases or conditions which have left stigma in the organs. These might include, for example, myocardial infarction, pleural effusion, broncho-pneumonia, kidney infection, a cerebral abcess, a pulmonary carcinoma, or a tumour in the meninges...