Before submitting a bird for necropsy, decrease feather insulation effects by thoroughly soaking the plumage in a mixture of cold water and a small amount of detergent. This will promote adequate cooling and help prevent tissue autolysis.
Ship non-frozen animals for postmortem by overnight delivery. Cadavers should sent on ice but do not place ice packs in direct contact with the body as this may freeze the tissues.
Bodies of embryos, nestlings, small adult birds (canaries, finches, etc), fish, and amphibians are subject to rapid tissue autolysis. For best results these animals should be submitted whole in formalin.
A money-saving tip for whole animal submissions in formalin: Since liquids are heavy and add to shipping costs, thoroughly fix the specimen overnight in an adequate amount of formalin, then ship it in a minimal amount.
When submitting an entire small animal in formalin, open the body cavity and the skull to ensure adequate fixation of the tissues.
Do not put large samples in narrow-mouth containers. Formalin fixation causes samples to become less flexible and they are very difficult to remove from the container later.
Please don’t drop large masses on top of your small, fragile tissue samples. Place smaller samples in a tissue cassette (we can supply these) or in a red top blood collection tube (filled with formalin).
Label your formalin containers! We’re only human and a small number of submissions do get separated from their forms, resulting in unclaimed and unprocessed samples.
Please note the method of euthanasia when submitting samples for histologic exam. Injectable solutions can produce gross artifact lesions. Inhalation agents can look like noxious gas exposure.
Cytology is an excellent way to augment your postmortem exams. Make impression smears from any lesions and all major organs prior to formalin fixation. Label slides as to collection site and we will be happy to look at them!
Impression cytology of the lung and spleen are useful in atoxoplasma screening of passerines. Sarcocystis can frequently be found on lung impression smears. Please send these slides with your tissue samples!
With fish it is important to examine for and collect samples to be examined for external protozoans before you euthanize the animal as protozoa can be difficult to identify on histology preparations.
Samples collected for histologic exam should include both those organs with gross changes and organs from systems implicated by clinical signs or laboratory test results.