Euthanasia and post-mortem examination

image of Euthanasia and post-mortem examination
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This chapter explains how to ensure euthanasia is performed as humanely as possible, covering special considerations in reptile species, techniques and signs of death. Post-mortem examination is also described, including: submission of material, pre-necropsy considerations, requirements for a necropsy, performing a necropsy, sample taking, laboratory investigations and record keeping.

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14.1 A system is required whenever animals are euthanased or examined after death. In this post-mortem room, hygiene is strict and a colour code – red to indicate infection or contamination – is used to minimize the risk of spread of pathogens.
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14.3 A suggested submission form. This form is designed for either a captive reptile or a wildlife casualty that needs a post-mortem examination and/or laboratory tests.
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14.4 A suggested submission form for reptile eggs.
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14.6 Green staining (bile) on the integument of a snake, indicative of post-mortem change.
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14.8 A suggested post-mortem examination form for dead reptiles.
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14.9 Key steps in a post-mortem examination.
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14.10 Suggested protocol for post-mortem examination of reptile eggs.
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14.11 Freezing and thawing can have a variety of adverse effects, both macroscopically and microscopically. The opacity in the eye of this snake is attributable to freezing.
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14.12 Swabs from the skin or orifices should be taken early on in the examination. Here, a cloacal swab is taken from a kingsnake.
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14.13 Post-mortem radiography may be valuable. (a) Skeletal abnormalities in a Round Island skink. (b) Conjoined (‘Siamese twin’) leopard tortoises.
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14.14 Chelonian necropsy. (a) Ventral view, showing the position of the initial incision in the bridge between plastron and carapace. (b) Ventral view following removal of the plastron, showing the main organs visible in the body cavity. (c) Massive liver trauma in a painted turtle that fell from a third-storey flat (apartment): Bl = blood from liver; H = heart; Haem = haematoma; L = liver; Si = small intestine; St = stomach. (d) Because of a known history, this joint of a giant tortoise was dissected to investigate possible arthritic change. (c, Courtesy of Paul Raiti)
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14.15 Snake necropsy. (a) View of a snake showing the position and length of the initial incision (one ramus has been cut and the jaw reflected). (b) Ventral view showing the main organs visible in the body cavity. (c) Prosected royal python: F = fat; Gb = gall bladder; P = pancreas; Sp = spleen; St = stomach. (d) Some macroscopic changes are very typical; the kidney of this Jamaican boa is white, indicative of urate deposition. (e) This heart, from a python, is ruptured – the cause of death. (c, Courtesy of Paul Raiti)
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14.16 Lizard necropsy. (a) Ventral view showing the position of the initial incision. (b) Ventral view showing the main organs visible in the body cavity. (c) Prosected juvenile green iguana: C = caecum; F = fat; Li = large intestine; Sp = spleen; St = stomach; T = testis. (c, Courtesy of Paul Raiti)
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14.19 A cytological preparation from the liver of an obese reptile. Large numbers of adipocytes (fat cells) are present (quick stain).
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14.20 Marked hyperkeratinization over the eye of a lacertid lizard attributed to a chronic vitamin A deficiency (H&E).
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14.21 A papilloma of the skin of a lacertid lizard. Melanocytes (normal in this species) are present in the centre of the field (H&E).
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14.22 A fungal dermatitis in a snake (PAS).
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14.23 (a) A green iguana with a raised skin nodule, prior to surgical removal. (b) The lesion in (a), bisected. This is an abscess. Caseous material, composed of pus and fibrin, is visible in concentric layers.
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14.24 Necrotic dermatitis in a snake showing marked cellular infiltration. A scale is clearly visible (H&E).
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14.25 Retained slough and dysecdysis in a snake. There are several layers of keratin over the skin surface (H&E).
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14.26 Pneumonia in a lacertid lizard. Note the thickened (inflamed) lung surface and inflammatory debris in the lumen (H&E).
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14.27 Haemorrhagic gastritis in a python (H&E).
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14.28 The kidney of a Mediterranean tortoise showing subcapsular glomerulogenesis (H&E). Continued development of glomeruli throughout life is a normal feature of many reptiles.
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14.29 The kidney of a Mediterranean tortoise, showing interstitial nephritis and deposits of calcium (H&E). These were unexpected findings following post-mortem examination and suggested earlier infectious disease and a calcium:phosphorus imbalance.
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14.30 Sealed eyelids and mild conjunctivitis in a lacertid lizard, probably associated with a vitamin A deficiency (H&E).
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14.31 Haemorrhagic pneumonia in a Mediterranean tortoise (H&E).
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14.32 A neurilemmoma in a Hermann’s tortoise (H&E). Histological examination of masses in reptiles is always wise; most are of infectious or traumatic origin but a few prove to be neoplasms, as in this case.
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14.33 Bone abscesses in a ratsnake. Reasonably well mineralized osseous tissue is on the right; multiple pyogenic foci on the left (H&E).
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