Morphological Pathology (Biopsy and Post-Mortem Examination)

Our Morphological Pathology Service is staffed by a team of board-certified Veterinary Pathologists (Royal College of Pathologists [RCPath] and European College of Veterinary Pathologists [ECVP]) and highly experienced, qualified technical staff.  Typically, the service carries out over 800 biopsies and 800 post-mortem examinations annually on companion and farm animals as well as exotic (including zoo) species.  Facilities include a large, state-of-the-art post-mortem room and a diagnostic laboratory fully automated for tissue processing and staining.  The laboratory participates in the Cellular Pathology Techniques Quality Assurance Scheme run by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), UK.  A computerised data management system dispatches diagnostic reports by e-mail.

Biopsy submissions

A number of simple steps can maximise the ‘diagnostic return’ from a biopsy.

A UCD VDL Histology Form 2023 containing the following information should accompany the sample:

  • Case signalment – species (breed), sex, age
  • Clinical history – concise details of duration of problem and any therapy attempted
  • Description of the lesion - location, distribution, size, consistency etc.
  • List of potential differential diagnoses, thoughts or concerns regarding the case
  • Name, phone number and e-mail address of the referring veterinarian

The sample should contain an adequate and representative amount of tissue.  It should be <1cm thick in one of its dimensions with a volume of tissue: volume of formalin 1:>10. Place the biopsied tissue in 10% buffered formalin immediately after biopsy or at post-mortem examination. Do not wash, freeze or allow tissues to dry out prior to fixation. Use wide-necked, leak-proof, screw capped plastic containers.   

Correct Packaging is Very Important (and a legal requirement)

    • The sample container should be placed inside a strong secondary container with enough absorbent material to absorb leaks
    • The outer box should be marked ‘Biological Substance Category B’ and a UN 3373 label attached
    • Volumes of fixative should be less than 500ml per package
    • Place the address of the laboratory and the sender's address on the outer box
    • See full packaging instructions here

We also provide further immunohistochemical assessment techniques to confirm or ‘fine-tune’ diagnoses through strategic links with other academic and commercial laboratories.

Addressing Your Submission

Deliver To: The Pathology Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4 

Submissions for Post-Mortem Examination (Necropsy)

Following the death of a companion or farm animal, ascertaining the cause of death can provide useful and sometimes vital information, as well as affording a form of closure for the animal owner. Identifying the cause of death can serve as an important ‘audit’ of the clinical diagnosis, as well as confirming or ruling out disease potentially affecting other ‘at risk’ animals. Cases should be submitted as soon as is practicable after death, and the body should be kept as cool as possible without freezing it. The provision of a concise, relevant clinical history, as highlighted previously for biopsy submissions, is also essential.

Submission for cases for post-mortem examination also yields an invaluable educational dividend in that this material is used to illustrate and explain disease processes to our veterinary undergraduate and postgraduate students.


For information on specific tests available please consult the UCD Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory 2023 Catalogue