Postmortem examination can often reveal significant findings in caged birds and, in many cases, can help to establish an accurate diagnosis about the cause of death. For good results, a comprehensive history and fresh specimens are required. Where mortality has occurred in a number of birds, it is best to examine all or a representative proportion of them. If carcases are unavailable, affected birds that are still alive and representative of the problem may be euthanased for postmortem examination. These birds should preferably be submitted to the laboratory alive if their welfare is not compromised; otherwise, they should be euthanased before submission. This article describes the human health and safety aspects that should be taken into consideration when performing an avian postmortem examination, the stages involved in the procedure and the possible causes of the lesions seen.
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