Message Number: YG3835 | New FHL Archives Search
From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-05-20 23:23:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Preservation for necropsy

--- In Ferret-Health-list@y..., "A. Abate/C. Kinsey"
<103211.3070@c...> wrote:
> I would like to respectfully disagree with Alica regarding
preservation of
> a body for necropsy. Refrigeration is absolutely essential if the
> is to be delayed more than an hour. What you want to avoid is
> decomposition, which sets in at the moment of death. Refrigeration
> preserves and protects the tissues if the necropsy cannot be
> immediately (which is the ideal time, of course). What you do not
want to
> do is freeze the body if you are going to do a necropsy. That
causes the
> cells to explode (in a gentle sort of way) and destroys much of the
> evidence useful in determining cause of death. In a nutshell: best
> is immediately, next best is prompt necropsy of refrigerated body.
> freezing if doing necropsy.

I absolutely agree on all points. Remember that nothing short of
freezing or preserving in formalin will stop the decomposition
process - refrigeration simply slows it.

All tissues decompose at their own pace - those involved in the
digestive system tend to autodigest fastest, due to the presence of
digestive enzymes (gallbladder and pancreas - the fastest decomposers
in the body), to the stomach, small intestine, and colon (which have
some digestive juices as well as their own supply of bacteria to
speed it along.) Depending on the composition of the other tissues,
they all decompose at their own pace. Muscle and bone generally
decomposes the slowest.

With kindest regards,

Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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