Clearing the Confusion Surrounding Necropsy

By Rachael Corn, VT

Necropsy is never an easy subject to talk about. There is usually an emotional party involved whether it is a pet owner who has lost their best friend or a rancher that keeps losing cattle and doesn’t know why. Either way you need answers and fast.

Transportation of the animal or samples can be accomplished several different ways. One option is to have the owner or one of the clinic staff deliver it to Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (KSVDL). We are able to accept submissions from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8:00 a.m. until noon on Saturdays. Holiday hours can be somewhat different. If a sample needs to be hand-submitted outside of these hours or on a holiday, you can stop at the Kansas State University Veterinary Health Center emergency desk. They will provide submission assistance.

Another transportation option is to ship it to KSVDL. The two couriers we recommend are UPS and FedEx. UPS is a great shipping option because they offer discounted UPS shipping to KSVDL. For more information about this discounted shipping offering, please call KSVDL Client Care at 866-512-5650. Shipping biological samples requires the container to have a UN3373 Biological Substances label, in addition to the regular shipping label, visible on the outside of the shipping container. Shipping the package with multiple cold packs and absorbent material inside an insulated box within an outer cardboard box is ideal. Please do not freeze the specimens because tissue damage may occur upon the necessary thawing before examination.

Please complete the appropriate submission form and send it with the specimens. The submission form should be placed within a separate waterproof bag in the shipping container. All submission forms are located on our website at under the “Submission Forms” tab. Select the correct submission form based on the species of animal being submitted. Please fill out the submission form as completely as possible including the clinic, owner, and animal information. A detailed history will assist the pathologist in making the most accurate diagnosis.

For whole animal necropsies, we also need to know how you would like us to care for the animal after the examination is completed. We offer both mass cremation (no ashes returned) and private cremation (ashes returned to owner). We also offer general disposal. There is a fee associated with each option.

Necropsy will never be an easy or comfortable subject, but it is necessary from time to time. If you have any questions or concerns please contact KSVDL Client Care at 785-532-5650 or

Rachel Corn received a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and Industry with an Equine Science Certificate from Kansas State University. She then completed an associate degree in Veterinary Technology from Brown Mackie-Salina. She is a Client Care Technician at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

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