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Techniques in Necropsy: Pathway to Knowing Everything

Christopher KoivistoNCSU-CVM Class of 2011

Summer Zoo RoundsJune 12, 2008

The Post-Mortem Exam

Patient historyNecropsyHistopathologyMicrobial culture/isolationToxicity screeningGene analysis


seeing a dead body (Greek)

Spyglass Entertainment Group, The Sixth Sense , 1999

Why do a necropsy?DiagnosticPreventionEvaluate health of a populationEducational

Why do a necropsy?

Necropsy Facility

Necropsy Facility

Necropsy Facility

Basic EquipmentSharp knife and steelScissorsTree limb snipsHandsawRongeursRulerTissue containers

Basic Equipment

Basic Equipment

Basic Equipment

Basic Equipment

Goals of Necropsy

Data collectionConcise lesion descriptionAppropriate tissue samplingCorrelate findings with in-life data.

Data CollectionReview historySystematicNecropsy record

Signalment and IDDate/time of deathDate of necropsy List of tissues examinedDescription of lesions

Necropsy Record

Necropsy Record

Lesion DescriptionTissueLocationColorSizeShape

Lesion DescriptionConsistency and textureNumber and extentSurface appearance Odor

Tissue SamplingCytologyLight microscopyMicrobial isolationMolecular analysisToxicologyElectron microscopy

CytologyPrior to fixationTouch impressionSmearsSkin scrapeFine needle aspirate (FNA)

Light Microscopy

Formalin fixed10:1 fixative:tissue ratioRepresentative samples should include junction between normal and abnormalHistochemistry and immunohistochemistry

Microbial IsolationFresh tissue Transport mediaFrozen tissue (viruses)

Molecular AnalysisPathogen identificationFrozen samples are preferred

ToxicologyFresh or frozen tissueLiver, kidney, skeletal muscle, fat

Electron Microscopy1% glutaraldehydeTissue perfusionParaffin embedded tissue Methods_of_Dissection.pdf

SummaryStart big; work towards smallBe consistentReturn to the animals historyCollect extra tissue if unsureDo it as often as you can

Want Necropsy Experience?

Gross Pathology RoundsEvery Wednesday 12:15-1:15

Saturday Morning Necropsy Volunteers

See PathHeads board for available dates

ReferencesDepartment of Defense. Veterinary Necropsy Report Checklist andGuidelines (DD Form 1626). Oct. 2001. 10 June 2008


Echols, Scott M. Exotic Pet Medicine and Surgery. V.2, Avian Necropsy and Cytology [1 CD-ROM] : Basic Avian Techniques. Jackson, Wyoming: Teton Newmedia, 2003.

King, John M. Dr. John M. King's Necropsy Show and Tell. 26 Dec. 2007. 10 June 2008 .

King, John M., Lois Roth-Johnson, and David C. Dodd. The Necropsy Book. Gurnee, IL: Charles Louis Davis DVM Foundation, 2005.

Munson, Linda. Necropsy of Wild Animals. 10 June 2008.

National Cancer Institute. Registry of Tumors in Lower Animals. 30 Sep. 2007. 10 June 2008 .

ReferencesRose, Karrie, Scott Newman, and Marcela Uhart. Wild Bird Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Surveillance: Sample Collection from Healthy, Sick and Dead Birds. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2006.

Terrell, Scott P., and Brian A. Stacy. "Reptile Necropsy Techniques."Infectious Diseases and Pathology of Reptiles. Ed. Elliott R.Jacobson.

Boca Raton, FL: Taylor and Francis, 2007. 219-256.

USDA-APHIS. Animal Health: Collecting Samples for Diagnostic Unknowns. 25 Feb. 2008. 10 June 2008


Woodford, M. H., D. F. Keet, and R. G. Bengis. Post-mortem Procedures for Wildlife Veterinarians and Field Biologists. Paris, France: Office International des Epizooties, 2000.

Wyneken, Jeanette. The Anatomy of Sea Turtles. Dec. 2001. 10 June 2008 .

Techniques in Necropsy:Pathway to Knowing EverythingThe Post-Mortem ExamDefinitionWhy do a necropsy?Why do a necropsy?Necropsy FacilityNecropsy FacilityNecropsy FacilityBasic EquipmentBasic EquipmentBasic EquipmentBasic EquipmentBasic EquipmentGoals of NecropsyData CollectionNecropsy RecordNecropsy RecordLesion DescriptionLesion DescriptionTissue SamplingCytologyLight MicroscopyMicrobial IsolationMolecular AnalysisToxicologyElectron MicroscopySlide Number 27Slide Number 28Slide Number 29Slide Number 30Slide Number 31SummaryWant Necropsy Experience?ReferencesReferences