PM Guide for field Veterinarians

PM Guide for field Veterinarians

When we write a post-mortem report on a field we arrive at the tentative diagnosis. However, we can not recall the standard set of lesions present in that particular condition. Therefore, this table will be a great troubleshooter.

It is not necessary that all the lesions mentioned in the table must be present in the case you attaining, so the modification is obviously required during such conditions.



1. Lightening stroke

2. Electric shock/current

3. Gunshot

4. Fell down due to slippery ground

5. Drowning

6. Poisoning

7. Road accident

8. Haemorrhagic septicemia

9. Black quarter

10. Snakebite- neurotoxic type (cobra and krait)

11. Snakebite- hemolytic type (viper)

12. Heatstroke/ Sunstroke

13. Acute copper poisoning

14. Subacute /chronic copper poisoning

15. Acute aflatoxicosis in calves

16. Subacute aflatoxicosis in calves

17. HCN/Cyanide/ young jowar shoots poisoning

18. Gossypol/ cottonseed cake poisoning

19. Lead poisoning

20. Salt poisoning

21. Urea poisoning

22. Collibacillosis

23. Rinderpest

24. Foot and mouth disease

25. Traumatic pericarditis

26. Johne’s disease/Paratuberculosis

27. Rabies

28. Naval ill in calf

29. TRP

30. Theileriasis

31. Babesiosis

32. Surra

33. Anaplasmosis

34. Coccidiosis (calf)

35. Ketosis

36. Grass tetany

37. Downer cow syndrome (milk fever)


1. Lightening stroke

Very rapid rigor mortis.

Skin- tree-shaped branching often reddish or bluish in color is seen.

Singed hairs with severe and deep burns present may reach up to the bones.

Blood- blackish and unclotted

Lungs- congested and oedematic

Congestion and hemorrhages on a majority of visceral organs


2. Electric shock/current

Skin- a mark of burn where animal contacted with electric wire, surrounding hairs burned/scorched, peripheral lacerated radiating mark.

Subcutaneous tissue-deep burns at affected area

Nasal cavity- reddish colored fluid oozing

Oral cavity- half-chewed food

Trachea- petechial hemorrhages

Lungs-congested and oedematous

Heart-petechial hemorrhages on surface, dark (black) colored unclotted blood in heart chambers, dilated chambers.



Lymph nodes-petechial hemorrhages


3  3. Gun shot

Entry wound - On the skin characterized by lacerated 2-3 cm opening and its borders showing clotted blood.

Exit wound - present -On the opposite side if fired from a short distance.

Exit wound- absent -if fired from long-distance and a metallic object(bullet) may be present in the body of the animal in the vicinity of an entry wound

Subcutaneous tissue- around the wound congested

Oral cavity- reddish colored fluid oozing (maybe)

Nasal cavity- reddish colored fluid oozing (maybe)

Body cavities- peritoneal or thoracic cavity show clotted blood depending on the affected part of the body

 Visceral organs- rupture or damage depending on site of bullet injury


4  4. Fell down due to slippery ground

Skin abrasions/contusions

Reddish coloured fluid maybe oozing from nasal openings

Subcutaneous tissue below affected skin shows severe congestion

Fracture of bones may be present depending on part of the body hit the ground

Rupture of organs such as liver/spleen with clotted blood on the margins

Massive reddish fluid/clotted blood in the body cavities

Heart- empty ventricles


5  5. Drowning

Presence of multiple folds on skin (corrugated appearance)

Firm and leathery appearance of muscles

Abrasions and wounds on the body surfaces

Distended abdomen

Oral cavity- frothy exudate

Nasal cavity- frothy exudate

Lungs- highly distended, on section a clear fluid (water) oozing from the incision

Heart- semi clotted blood in left ventricle and veins contain partially clotted blood

Digestive tract- rumen and reticulum filled with an excess of fluid (water)

6  6. Poisoning

Distended abdomen 

Trachea- the presence of fluid/frothy material

Lungs- congested

Heart- clotted blood

Liver- hepatomegaly

Digestive tract- congestion and hemorrhages on the mucous membrane of rumen and intestines. Reddish colored ingesta in the intestinal lumen.

Lesions suggestive of death occurred due to severe gastritis and intestinal hemorrhages may be caused by poisoning.


7  7. Road accident

Skin with abrasions and contusions. Skeletal muscles hemorrhagic and contains blood clots within them.

Fracture/dislocation of limbs/horn/ribs.

Nasal and oral cavity- blood containing fluid oozing.

Bloody fluid/clots in thoracic and abdominal cavity.

Heart- empty with dilated right side.

Rupture of liver/spleen with blood clots.


8 8.  Haemorrhagic septicemia

Edematous swelling on the neck region

Trachea- lumen filled with frothy exudate

Lung- congestion, consolidation and fluid in bronchi and bronchioles

Heart-petechial haemorrhages on surface and chambers with clotted blood

Liver- petechial hemorrhages 

Spleen- petechial hemorrhages

Digestive system- congested mucosa

Kidneys- petechial haemorrhages


9    9. Black quarter

Crepitating swelling of thigh and shoulder muscle. On incision, muscles appear as necrosed and black in color. Fluid-containing gas bubbles present in affected muscle giving rancid odor.

Liver- swollen

Spleen- swollen

Lymph nodes- swollen

Heart- the presence of clotted blood


   10. Snake bite - neurotoxic type (cobra and krait)

Bite marks may present on the body often on the hairless part of skin (muzzle).

Lungs- oedematic and congested

Heart- right chambers of heart dilated

11. Snake bite- hemolytic type (viper)

Bite marks may present on the body often on the hairless part of the skin (muzzle)

Unclotted blood

Body cavities shows unclotted reddish fluid

Absence of bloating (ballooning after death)

12) Heatstroke/ Sunstroke

Skin- reddened

Poor blood coagulation

Heart- dilatation of the right side

Congestion, hemorrhages and oedema of visceral organs (liver, kidneys, lungs, brain)


13) Acute copper poisoning

 Digestive tract-presence of blue-green ingesta and severe gastroenteritis with ulceration and erosions in abomasal mucosa

Liver and kidneys degenerative changes


14) Subacute/ chronic copper poisoning

Tissue discoloration due to icterus (yellowish) and methemoglobin formation (chocolate brown)

Liver- swollen, friable and icteric. Gall bladder distended with an excess of thick, yellow bile

Spleen- enlarged, friable with pulpy dark brown black parenchyma

Kidneys- swollen and gunmetal-colored

Urinary bladder- port wine colored urine


15) Acute aflatoxicosis in calves

Liver - hepatitis

Haemorrhages on internal organs with icteric appearance


16) Subacute aflatoxicosis in calves

Liver- enlarged with firm appearance

Gall bladder- edematous


17) HCN/Cyanide/ young jowar shoots poisoning

Cyanotic mucous membranes

Heart- right chambers contains bright cherry red coloured blood

Clotting of blood is either slow or absent

Digestive tract- rumen is highly distended and on opening a smell resembling bitter almond is evident


18) Gossypol/ cottonseed cake poisoning

Heart- enlarged, pale, mottled with myocardial streakings. Dilated ventricles with edematous valves

Skeletal muscles-pale

Lungs- edematic with frothy material in tracheal lumen and interlobular septa.

Liver- Icteric, enlarged, congested, mottled and golden in colour.

Characteristic nutmeg appearance.

Kidneys, spleen- congested with petechial hemorrhages


19) Lead poisoning

Digestive tract- presence of oil paint or residue of battery in lumen.

Severe gastroenteritis

Brain- congestion and edema of cerebral cortex

In my opinion present animal has died due to gastritis and damage to nervous system suggestive of lead toxicity.


20) Salt poisoning

Digestive tract- mild to severe gastric congestion with hemorrhages and ulcerations.

Parched (very dry) appearance of gastic content.


21) Urea poisoning

Severe bloat

Presence of a large amount of ruminal fluid on the ground near the nasal opening.

Presence of white foamy exudate in airways

Generalized congestion of carcass

Heart- Hydropericardium, petechea on epi and endocardium

A ruminal content gives ammonical odor after the opening of rumen

Lunges- pulmonary edema

Ruminal fluid gives alkaline reaction when tested with the pH paper (7.5-8)


22) Collibacillosis

Carcass highly emaciated and anaemic

Parched and dry tongue

Heart- partially clotted blood in left ventricle

Liver- swollen with thick bile in gall bladder

Digestive tract- congested mucosae of abomasum and intestines with mucoid ingesta


23) Rinderpest

Emaciated carcass, with haemorrhages and pustules on the skin.


Oral cavity- greyish white nodules and mucopurulent discharge

Nasal cavity- mucopurulent discharge

Lungs- congested and emphysematous

Heart- clotted blood

Liver- hepatomegaly with petechial hemorrhages on surface

Digestive tract- congested and hemorrhagic mucous membranes of abomasm and intestine. Necrosed Payer's patches. Characteristic zebra marking on colon and rectal mucosa.

Mesenteric lymph nodes- swollen, congested and hemorrhagic

Kidneys- renomegaly


24) Foot and mouth disease

Presence of vesicular lesions on the lips, dorsal side of tongue, skin of coronary band and interdigital space, teats

Heart- a tigroid condition in young animals

Digestive tract- congested and edematic mucous membrane of



25)Traumatic pericarditis

Anemia-pale mucous membranes

Oronasal cavity- reddish colored fluid oozing

Heart- enlarged heart. Blood stained thickened fibrous the appearance of pericardium. Pericardial sac distended containing fibrinopurulent material.

Adhesions between the heart, reticulum, and diaphragm with the presence of mettalic object/nail/wire penetrating from reticum to heart through diaphragm 

Digestive tract- Reticulitis with marked adhesions with surrounding tissues. Presence of metallic wire/ nail stuck in the wall of reticulum


26) Johnes disease/Paratuberculosis

Severe emaciated and anaemic carcass

Heart- clotted blood

Digestive tract- pale, oedematous, and thickened mucosa of ileum and caecum. The corrugated appearance of mucous membrane with severe congestion

Lymph nodes- mesenteric lymph nodes swollen

In my opinion, lesions are suggestive of death due to Johnes disease (Paratuberculosis)


27) Rabies

Multiple abrasions, contusions and injuries on body perticularly on the head region foreign material in the digestive tract

Reddened conjuctiva

Brain- congestion


28) Naval ill in calf

Emaciated and anaemic carcass

Umbilical regions showing sever swelling and on incision lesions shows purulent material mixed with bloody exudate

Lungs- congested consodited and pneumonic

Peritoneal cavity- reddish fluid

Liver- swollen with suppurative lesions on surface

Gall bladder distended with accumulated thick bile fluid

Kidneys- congested and swollen

Lymph nodes- mesenteric lymph nodes highly congested


29) TRP

Severe emaciation

Subcuteneous fat-gelatinization

Pericardium- presence of fluid in pericardial sac forming fibrinous strands

Coronal fat- jelly-like

Peritoneal cavity- Presence of serous fluid

Spleen- multiple abscesses, spleen shows adherance with surrounding tissue/diaphragm, A wire/nail/metallic object stuck in the spleen

Reticulum-presence of a metallic object/nail/wire penetrating through its wall


30) Theileriasis Severe emaciation

Anaemia-pale mucous membranes

Subcuteneous and intramuscular edema

Subcuteneous fat-gelatinization

Petechial hemorrhages on tongue

Pleural cavity/lungs- Presence of excessive fluid in pleural cavity. Lungs congested, emphysematous and edematous

Heart- Hydropericardium, petechial hemorrhages on endocardium

Liver-hepatomegaly, congested with petechial hemorrhages

Gall bladder-petechial hemorrhages on surface

Speen- Splenomegaly, and congestion

Abomasum- punched out ulcers with petechial hemorrhages on mucosa


Brain-focal hemorrhages

Prescapular lymph node-highely enlarged and congested


31) Babesiosis

Severe emaciation, anaemic and icteric appearance

Subcutaneous tissue shows icteric condition and adipose tissue gelatinized

Heart-clotted blood in chambers

Peritoneal cavity- Presence of yellowish fluid

Liver-enlarged with yellowish brown colour

Gall bladder- distended with bile

Spleen- severe splenomegaly with the soft and dark appearance 

Kidneys-swollen and icteric

Urinary bladder-presence of red colored urine

32) Surra

Emaciated carcass, severe anaemia, edematic condition, muscular atrophy

Subcuteneous edema

Lungs- congested

Peritoneal cavity- presence of serous fluid

Liver- hepatomegaly with petechial hemorrhages on surface

Kidneys-swollen with petechial hemorrhages on surface



33. Anaplasmosis

Emaciated carcass, severe anaemia, edematic carcass, muscular atrophy

Icteric mucous membranes

Subcuteneous tissue- icteric and gelatinization of adipose tissue

Lungs- emphysematous

Heart- dialated with clotted blood in chambers

Peritoneal cavity-presence of large amount of yellowish fluid

Liver- hepatomegaly with distended gall bladder containing dark and

viscid bile


Kidney- yellowish and straw coloured fluid in urinary bladder

Lymph nodes-edematic



34 Coccidiosis (calf)

Emaciated carcass, sunken eyes, posterior part of body soiled with feces mixed with blood

Heart- chembers containing clotted blood

Digestive tract- mucous membrane of small and large intestines highely

congested, hemorrhagic and lumen filled with material containing blood

Mesenteric lymph nodes- congested and edematic


35. Ketosis

Emaciated carcass with anemia

Subcutenous tissue- jelly-like appearance of adipose tissue

Heart- clotted blood

Peritoneal cavity- contains watery fluid

Liver- hepatomegaly with bright yellow colour, cut surface shows greasy

appearance (may float on water due to severe fatty changes). Gall

bladder distended with bile

Urinary bladder- urine contains characteristic smell of ketone bodies

(sweet smell)


36 Grass tetany

Contracted and hardened muscles

Subcutaneous tissue hemorrhagic

Oral cavity-frothy fluid

Lungs- emphysematous and pleura- hemorrhagic

Heart- hemorrhages on the pericardium and endocardium. Pericardial sac

showing serosanguinous fluid. Raised, calcified areas on intima (inner walls) of large vessels.

Digestive tract- segmentally contracted abomasum and small intestine.

Hemorrhagic mucous membrane of the rumen and small intestine


37. Downer cow syndrome (milk fever)

Skin abrasions, thigh muscle showing hemorrhages and necrotic changes

Heart- empty and dilated ventricles, degenerative changes in the myocardium

Peritoneal cavity- excess serous fluid

Liver- hepatomegaly and fatty changes

Kidneys- swollen (organomegaly)


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By- Dr. Jitendra kumar sahu (B.V.Sc & A.H.)

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