One of the cool things about clinical rotations is that you get to spend each day surrounded by people who are excited to learn and discover that not all cases present the same way. On pathology, we have seen first-hand the variation in pathologic tissue between species, breeds, and even individual animals. Although doing necropsies (and writing necropsy reports) is definitely not my cup of tea, I have come to appreciate their importance and how they may often shed light on cases for which there was no clear-cut answer for the cause of death. Certain pathophysiological mechanisms could have been suspected but are often not definitively proven until a body is opened up and in front of you.
In preparation for working on the cadavers, we reviewed several Powerpoint presentations of gross lesions, some of which were quite disgusting. Many of the slides included a caption listing the species, but it was our job as students to identify the area of the body that was being featured as well as stating a morphologic diagnosis (which I learned must allude to a disease process, the tissue being affected, and distribution within it). To be able to “morph” lesions, whether on slides or during actual necropsies, it is useful to think of differential diagnoses that can cause such pathology. I am certainly unable to think like a veterinary pathologist does, but being able to hear the residents, faculty, and my fellow rotation mates rattle off differentials so quickly after visualizing lesions is quite something to behold!