Division of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology

Oral and maxillofacial pathology is the specialty of dentistry and pathology that deals with the nature, identification, and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial regions. It is a science that investigates the causes, processes, and effects of these diseases. The practice of oral pathology includes research, diagnosis of diseases using clinical, radiographic, microscopic, biochemical, or other examinations, and management of patients.

*Definition of oral and maxillofacial pathology (from the constitution of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, 1994)

Microscopic Diagnosis Service

The division of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology is the School’s referral center for the microscopic diagnosis of oral diseases. Only specimens from the School’s clinics or those at the Dental Health Center at 930 Commonwealth Avenue are accepted for microscopic interpretation. Clinicians with questions about submitting specimens may call the department at 617-358-6775.

Biopsy submission forms, fixatives, and packaging materials are available on request. Turnaround for biopsies is usually within 48 hours from receipt of the specimen to the faxing of the final pathology report. For unusual or urgent cases, telephone discussion of the findings is offered in addition to the report.

Close affiliation with Boston Medical Center’s Mallory Institute of Pathology allows the service to include special histochemical, immunofluorescence, and immunoperoxidase techniques when indicated; specialty consultations in other pathology disciplines are readily available through the Mallory Institute.

Pathology departments at other institutions may request consultations on problem cases in oral and maxillofacial pathology. A consultation case should include a clinical summary of the patient’s presenting condition, copies of relevant radiographs, and representative microscopic slides. The material will be evaluated promptly and returned, if so desired, along with a report. Consultation material may be sent directly to:

Boston University School of Dental Medicine
Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology
72 E. Concord Street; B 332

Boston, MA 02118-2392
Phone: 617-358-6775
Fax: 617-358-6781

Patient Evaluations

Dr. Noonan and Dr. Sundararajan are available to evaluate patients. Clinicians with a patient whose diagnosis is obscure may wish to refer such a patient for clinical evaluation by an oral and maxillofacial pathologist. Clinicians may telephone or email for an initial discussion of the problem and, if indicated, the patient may be seen in person by one of the pathologists. Patients referred for a clinic visit should call 617-358-6775 for an appointment, and should be prepared to arrive with information about their past medical history, present problem, current medications, and relevant radiographs and pathology reports. We endeavor to provide the finest diagnostic services and advice, with referral as needed, but in most cases the management of the patient’s treatment remains in the hands of the referring clinician.

Patients who might wish to consult directly with the pathologists for advice regarding an oral and maxillofacial pathology issue may do so, but in most cases it will be necessary for the doctors to examine the patient involved along with relevant radiographs (X-rays) and microscopic slides before an opinion on a case will be possible.

Consultation Services

The pathologists encourage any practitioner with a question or concern related to oral and maxillofacial pathology to communicate directly with them; the doctors are happy to discuss cases or answer questions related to diagnosis or management of oral disease. Telephone or email consultations by the doctors with other health professionals are always free of charge.

Dr. Devaki Sundararajan
Phone: 617-358-6775

Dr. Vikki Noonan
Phone: 617-358-6775


The Division of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology also teaches oral pathology at every level, from hygienist, dental student, post-doctoral trainees, generalists, and specialists in medicine and dentistry who are seeking continuing education. The department continually runs both formal and informal teaching exercises for all of these groups. We believe effective teaching is both a science and art, and that teachers must study and practice teaching as well as the subject matter of their discipline in order to achieve excellence. Professional organizations outside of the Boston University community are encouraged to contact the faculty directly to arrange for presentations on topics in oral and maxillofacial pathology.