Fix specimens in 10% buffered formalin and submit in wide-mouth, leak-proof containers or double-bagged, leak-proof, sealed plastic bags.

  • Place tissues in formalin immtuediately following collection.
  • For larger organs, prepare 5 mm thin representative tissue sections (1/4 inch or about the thickness of a wooden pencil) in 10% formalin.
  • The ratio of tissue to formalin should be 1 volume tissue to 10 volumes of formalin. Neutral-buffered formalin is available from commercial sources.
  • Do not freeze formalin-fixed tissues, as the tissue will be sufficiently damaged to preclude critical histopathological examination.
  • Improper handling or fixation of tissue can induce artifacts that may result in nondiagnostic or unsuitable specimens.
  • Label the container (not the lid) with names of veterinarian, owner, and animal. This allows clinic and laboratory personnel to verify specimen identity.
  • Provide a complete history and summary of surgical or necropsy findings; forms available at: http://labs.alabama.gov/home/submission-forms.

Dermatologic Cases.   Skin biopsies should be obtained from multiple sites. Submit pertinent history including results from any prior antibiotic or corticosteroid therapy, endocrine assays, skin scrapes and any other clinical data. Draw the distribution of lesions on the animal figure included on the Surgical Pathology and Biopsy form   http://labs.alabama.gov/home/submission-forms.

Tumor Biopsies. Tumors (or suspected tumors) must be documented and packaged so the pathology report can be clearly correlated with the clinical findings for each tumor mass.

  • Multiple tumors from the same location can be placed in the same container. If specific information is needed for each mass, place in separate container and label accordingly on the container and case history.
  • For multiple tumors from more than one location on the same animal, place each specimen in a separate container. Label the container to correspond with the description of the tumor in the case history.  Example: Container A, 5 mm skin mass, right elbow; Container B, 7 mm subcutaneous mass from dorsal midline, Container C, 10 mm mass from right hock.
  • Tumor biopsies that are not properly documented and separated may be handled as nonconforming specimens, resulting in delays in processing.

Practitioner Necropsy. The clinical history and findings can help to target tissues to collect for histopathologic examination. In cases with no history or sudden death, a complete set of tissues should be collected. Refer to the following guide for routine tissue collection during necropsy.

  • Bacteriology and Virology: fresh liver, kidney, lung, spleen, large and small intestine (ligated segments), and brain. Keep refrigerated and ship with cold packs.
  • Histopathology:  affected tissues with lesions, brain, heart, lung, liver, spleen, kidney, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (2-cm length, not ligated), lymph node, urinary bladder, skeletal muscle, bone marrow and thymus on young animals. Fix tissues in neutral-buffered formalin.
  • Toxicology:  stomach content, liver and kidney. Keep refrigerated or freeze and ship with cold packs. Also send hay, feed, and baits, etc. if any is still available when suspecting contaminated feed sources or malicious poisoning.

When in doubt as to which specimens and tissues to collect, call the laboratory (334-844-4987) and ask to speak to the pathologist on duty.  See additional information under related sections, and refer to shipping instructions.