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Equine Practice
Postmortem examination of horses
  1. Katherine Whitwell

    Katherine Whitwell graduated from Liverpool in 1965 and went into mixed practice. She subsequently joined the Animal Health Trust's (AHT's) Equine Research Station in Newmarket where she worked for 24 years as an equine pathologist, latterly as section head of pathology. In 1993, she set up the Equine Pathology Consultancy, working as a consultant to both the AHT and Beaufort Cottage Laboratories. She is an RCVS specialist in veterinary pathology (equine), a Fellow of the RCVS and a diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Pathologists.


THE advantage of conducting a postmortem examination is that it provides an opportunity to assess the whole animal, rather than examining tissue samples harvested by someone else. It offers the chance to see, feel, photograph and examine juxtaposed tissues in situ before evaluating them more thoroughly, and to personally select the best sites for histology and microbiology. It also facilitates inspection for congenital defects, parasitism, and past and incidental lesions. ‘Evidence of absence’ of certain changes can be gathered to counter the black hole that is ‘absence of evidence’. This article describes the author's approach to conducting a postmortem examination in horses, based on experience working with colleagues in the UK as well as observing equine diagnostic work abroad.

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