A full post mortem should be carried out on the foetus and placental tissues. If possible, submit the entire foetus and foetal membranes to a diagnostic laboratory to conduct the post mortem according to a standardized protocol. If not possible and the post mortem must be conducted on site, then follow the guidelines from laboratories. Protocols can be easily obtained from the internet or websites, or by phoning the laboratory directly. A copy of the submission form for abortion investigations at Vetdiagnostix is also be listed as an appendix to this presentation. It is also available for download from the Vetdiagnostix website, under Sample Submission Forms. This serves as example of what post mortem findings need to be recorded and as checklist to ensure a complete set of samples is collected.


A guide to the post mortem technique, with digital images, can be found under the section VDX Lab Manual – chapter 5, reproduction. If veterinarians have a good working relationship with a pathologist, telephonic discussion, photos or videos per WhatsApp, email etc. may be very useful to both the veterinarian and pathologist (both during and after conducting a post mortem).

It would be important develop a system by which all findings are recorded in consistent and systematic manner, with a clearly defined set of criteria and where necessary clearly defined categories. Clear and concise reporting would not only allow for meaningful comparison of findings on seasonal and yearly basis but also between different districts, regions, countries and the laboratories and veterinarians involved. There will not necessarily be any standard norm, local or international, but it would be beneficial if a logical system is followed.

Adhering to a post mortem protocol veterinarians should attempt to:

• Differentiate between abortion, stillbirth, and neonatal death/perinatal mortalities.

• Identify cases of dystocia.

• Identify any trauma to the foetus.

• Identify cases of mummification and maceration.

• Correctly identify autolytic changes.

• Identify if single foetus or twinning (the latter may be incompatible with foetal survival). identify and record any congenital defects.


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