Experimental neuropathology also covers a broad range of topics including neoplastic, inflammatory, genetic, and neurodegenerative disorders. Neuropathological research can be primarily basic science research such as protein biochemistry and molecular genetics or it can entail case studies which examine individual patients or groups of patients with similar abnormalities. The major focus of much of experimental neuropathology is to determine the biological mechanisms of neurologic disease, in order to develop strategies to prevent or treat them
The work of the neuropathologist consists largely of examining biopsy tissue from the brain and spinal cord to aid in diagnosis of disease. The biopsy is usually requested after a mass is detected by radiologic imaging. As for autopsies, the principal work of the neuropathologist is to help in the post-mortem diagnosis of various forms of dementia and other conditions that affect the central nervous system.
Biopsies can also consist of the skin. Epidermal nerve fiber density testing (ENFD) is a more recently developed neuropathology test in which a punch skin biopsy is taken to identify small fiber neuropathies by analyzing the nerve fibers of the skin. This pathology test is becoming available in select labs as well as many universities; it replaces the traditional sural nerve biopsy test as less invasive. It is used to identify painful small fiber neuropathies.
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