My introduction to dog post mortem (Day 517)

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Hair Remover

Well today has been long, and it is seriously feeling like it is Friday already. I started the day with a clinical diagnostics practical, todays practical was a revision session for what we had done last semester. We were split into small groups and given a set of points to evaluate (clinical exams are kinda like checklists). My group managed pretty well doing a dual exam on two different dogs at the same time.

After this we were supposed to have our first Pathological Anatomy lecture, however as the professor was away at a conference this was cancelled, and so we got a gap before the practical class. Turning up to the practical class I was lucky to be in the group which had the instructor present and so we started the subject.

Something here that is taken very serious is the risk from pathogens, and so the department issues us each a lab coat which remains within the unit, along with gum boots/shoes just for the session. After this was done we got a crash course in health and safety and the different equipment available to use (all hand powered) before being offered the opportunity to order the book for the subject.

After this a colleague and myself were asked to start the post mortem of a dog under instruction as a demonstration of the correct method and technique. Using a post mortem knife was very different from surgery scalpels and indeed the technique was very different using gross dissection rather than the fine surgical technique. I am going outline the protocol followed below briefly so if squeamish now is probably the time to stop reading.

During a post mortem the exterior of the body, eyes and orifices are examined for any abnormalities before the legs are opened out to let the body lay flat. The skin is reflected back from a midline incision the entire length of the body and the underlying muscles examined for any abnormalities. The peritoneum is then incised midline and reflected back with a quick visual inspection of the abdomen for fluid and position of the organs. A window incision is made into the diaphragm to check the thorax for fluid, and then it is completely resected from the arch of the ribs. The ribs and sternum are them removed at the junction costosternal junction exposing the lungs and heart.

The thoracic organs are then removed with an incision beginning with the tongue and going along the trachea and esophagus until the chest where the lungs and heart are removed. The front of the pelvis is then cut to allow access to the pelvic cavity, this then allows an incision around the anus to remove the gastrointestinal tract and associated organs from the abdominal cavity.

The last thing to be removed is the brain, I’ve seen this done either with cutting around and lifting off the top of the skull or like today by cutting down the middle of the skull and removing the brain in two half.

Anyways I am really exhausted so will leave it there for today!

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