Necropsy Frequently Asked Questions
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What does the necropsy laboratory do?

The necropsy laboratory performs gross postmortem examinations (necropsies) on all types of animals —pets, farm animals, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, laboratory animals, and zoo animals—to determine the cause of illness and/or death. The staff also examines fresh and fixed tissue samples submitted by veterinarians who have performed necropsies at their local practices and forwarded samples in for diagnostic evaluation. Selected tissues will be examined microscopically, while others may be submitted to other DCPAH labs for bacteriology, virology, toxicology, parasitology, nutritional, immunodiagnostic, and clinical pathology testing.

Does the necropsy service accept live animals?

The necropsy service accepts the following live animals: cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, poultry, laboratory animals, and fish. All animals are humanely euthanized prior to examination. We do not accept live horses, dogs, cats, or ferrets. These animals must be euthanized by a local veterinarian or brought to the MSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for euthanasia prior to delivery to DCPAH. Euthanasia of horses must be scheduled with the MSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital prior to arrival on campus.

How long do I have to wait for necropsy results?

Gross reports are issued by mail, fax, or Web within 48 hours of the necropsy. Final reports - which include histopathology and other ancillary laboratory results - are issued within 2 weeks (10 business days). Specialized testing - including toxicology, nutrition, certain microbiology, and outside referral tests - may take longer and will be reported in a separate addendum.

How are animals disposed of following necropsy?

All animals are incinerated on-site, or are released directly to the commercial pet cemetery of the client’s choosing. Animals cannot be released directly to clients because of health concerns. We are now offering individual private pet cremation. For an additional fee, private cremation ensures that ashes from only the owner’s pet will be returned. Alternatively, representative ashes from each day’s communal incineration are available for client pick-up at no charge, or may be mailed to clients for a small fee.

How should animals be stored prior to necropsy?

Animal remains should be kept cool, but not frozen. Freezing creates artifacts which interfere with optimal gross and microscopic examination, and also causes considerable delays while the tissues are thawed. Refrigerate or store the animal on ice until it can be delivered to DCPAH. DCPAH provides large coolers to hold animals pending necropsy. For large animal clients (farm animals, horses) an after-hours drop-off service is available so that the animal can be delivered and kept cool. This service is available by calling the MSU Operator at (517) 355-1855. A technician will meet the client at DCPAH, unload the animal, and place it in the cooler. There is a charge for this service.

How do I contact the necropsy service?

During regular business hours, Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., please call (517) 353-1683. From 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Saturdays or for animal health emergencies outside of normal operating hours, please call 517-353-5275 for an automated answering system.

WEBCD.NEC.REF.001.01 01/09/2009