35677 - Necropsy Techniques and Post Mortem Diagnosis

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

At the end of the module the student is able to perform the necropsy techniques and knows the anatomo-histopathological diagnostic and sampling methods for cytology and histopathology needed to establish the cause of death of an animal.

Course contents

The module si part of the intgrated course of PROFESSIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING IN VETERINARY PATHOLOGY(CFU: 7) with wich it shares common learining outcomes.

At the end of the Integrated Course (C.I) of Practice in Pathology and Transmissible Diseases

  • the student knows the necropsy techniques and the anatomic pathology diagnostic methods and is able to apply them in order to recognize the cause of a disease or death of an animal. The student is able to achieve a post-mortem diagnosis, complete a post-mortem report and understand the general principles of interpretation and reporting of microscopic changes.

  • the student is able to manage parasites (including zoonotic agents) in animals (hosts) by applying basic diagnostic tools for the recognition of parasites and the clinical forms in companion animals, in the context of animal production and food safety, and by evaluating the consequences of the host / parasite / environment relationship for a rational management of parasites.

  • He is able to evaluate the welfare and biosecurity aspects of bovine / ovine-caprine farms; is able to evaluate the management and structural aspects of kennels and shelters; is able to propose corrective actions and improvement interventions in shelters and kennels;


  • Definition, aims and limits of autopsies. Forensic vetrerinary medicine and the medico-legal assessment.
  • Equipment. Biosecurity for post-mortem examination and relevant regulations. Necropsy in the post-mortem room and field necropsy. Necropsy of domestic animals (dog, cat, pig, cow, sheep and goats, horses). Carcass management and relative legislation. 
  • Signalment and anamnesis. Necropsy submission form. Necropsy preparation, external examination, skinning and subcutis exam, opening of abdominal cavity, thoracic cavity, pelvis, head and neck, nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses, vertebral canal, bones. 
  • Single-organ examination: description, interpretation and diagnosis.
  • The post-mortem report and the diagnostic process. Components of a post-mortem report. 
  • Ancillary testing: sampling methods for histopathology, toxicology, cytology and microbiology.

The Syllabus of the course unit and the list of EAEVE Day One Competences that the course unit contributes to achieving can be viewed on the dedicated page



Teaching material will be available on the course website on virtuale.unibo.it

Suggested reading:

  • Petterino C. e coll., Manuale di Tecnica delle Autopsie e di Diagnostica Anatomo-Patologica Veterinaria . Editrice Estense-Giraldi, Bologna, 2003.
  • Taccini E., Rossi G., Gili C., Tecnica Autoptica e Diagnostica Cadaverica . Poletto Editore, Milano, 2006.
  • J.King. The necropsy book. 7th. CL Davis Foundation. Ed. https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/3794

Teaching methods

Lectures will be delivered with supporting ppt presentations and7or videos. 

Practical classes: during these sessions the students will perform post-mortem examinations either individually or in small groups. use of PPE is compulsory. 

Assessment methods

The exam consists of a practical test (about 30 min),followed by an oral exam.

a) Practical exam

The purpose of the practical exam is to assess the manual skills of the student. The student performs a complete necropsy or part of a necropsy. He is able to use the appropriate instruments, the personal protective equipment, how to examine single organs and systems, how to collect samples and how to finalize a diagnosis and be able to write a post-mortem report.

b) Oral exam

The purpose of the oral examination is to assess the student's ability to apply their knowledge, their critical thinking, problem solving ability. The student is able to: describe, recognize and interpret the anatomo-pathological lesions, recognize the post-mortem changes, is able to perform differential diagnosis showing their critical thinking, suggest further tests to reach a final diagnosis, and has an understanding of the cytological-histological methods, is able to communicate with appropriate terminology.

At the end of both the practical and oral exam the student will be evaluated as follows: 

  • Failure to demonstrate core procedural competencies, inability to interpret findings, incorrect terminology (FAIL)
  • Basic procedural skills, appropriate interpretation of lesions to reach a logic conclusion, minor inconsistencies, appropriate specific terminology (18-22)
  • Confident manual skills, correct and independent interpretation of lesions, critical analysis of findings, appropriate specific terminology (23-26)
  • Proficient across core manual skills, correct and independent interpretation of lesions, critical analysis of findings, problem solving ability, appropriate terminology (27-29)
  • Proficient across all manual skills, correct interpretation of lesions, critical analysis of findings, independent thought, problem solving ability, appropriate terminology and confident communication skills (30-30L)


Passing this module will allow to access to the next module: Tirocinio di Anatomia Patologica, of the integrated course, PROFESSIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING IN VETERINARY PATHOLOGY (CFU: 7)

The teacher that will register the final mark is Prof. Barbara Bacci.The final mark will correspond to the mark obtained in the Necropsy techniques (35677) module. 

Teaching tools

Lecture files for the theory.

Fully equipped Post-mortem room for the practical classes. 

Office hours

See the website of Barbara Bacci