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Necropsy – Sampling Tips by a Veterinary Pathologist

One of the best general practitioners I have ever worked with said to me once, “I’m a good vet because I have performed a lot of necropsies. I try not to let anything die without really understanding what the problem was”.

In the veterinary profession, we always try to obtain a definitive diagnosis to help guide treatment and prognosis for each case, but of course in practice this is not always possible, and some animals die or are euthanized without having all the answers. Necropsy is routinely used as a diagnostic tool in outbreaks affecting a cohort of animals in the livestock and wildlife sectors. But how often are necropsies being performed for companion animal species, particularly small animals? My guess is not often, particularly in general practice. Of course for pet animals, owner permission can be harder to come by, and without the motivation to obtain a diagnosis to protect a group of animals, schedules in busy clinics are often too busy to prioritise this extra step.

But general practice is also where we are less likely to have advanced diagnostics and specialist opinions at hand for case management while the patient is alive, unless the owner has opted for referral. Which leaves a certain percentage of cases where the complete medical picture in the end is not clear. So the question is, would we all learn more about those complex or mysterious cases if we could visualize the problem and get all the samples we needed for a complete analysis, even if that was after death? Would we advance the profession if we followed up on more of these? And would we all be better vets if we didn’t let anything die without truly understanding what happened?

I tend to agree with my mentor, and say the answer to all those questions, is yes. In this video, veterinary pathologist Dr Marina Gimeno gives some great tips on collecting samples from body tissues in a necropsy, including how to select samples from grossly normal areas. It’s a great place to get started and be ready for the next opportunity to go further to find answers for some of those challenging cases.

About the Presenter

Dr Marina Gimeno DVM MVSc PhD DACVP is a veterinary pathologist, who lectures at The University of Sydney in Veterinary Pathology. Marina is originally from Brazil, and has spent many years in Europe collaborating on multidisciplinary projects involving drug delivery systems, new materials and infectious diseases in sheep. She is passionate about research, teaching and diagnostics, and has a wealth of knowledge to share in all facets of pathology.

Need to know more?

Watch Marina perform a full necropsy procedure on a sheep in the Versatile Vet video library at www.versatilevet.com/videos. She gives a fantastic step-by-step instruction and loads of tips for making the approach to each anatomic area easier.

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