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Flashcards in VP4 Deck (12)
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Agonal change

The physiological and histological change related to and associated with death. Fully normal findings during PM exam.


Rigor Mortis

The agonal change of the body stiffening after death. This is due to that ATP production ceases and therefore, the myosin fibres cannot release from the actin fibres in the muscle cells. The time of rigor mortis is dependent on:
- Glycogen storage (less glycogen —> less time before rigor mortis)
- Temperature (high —> less time before rigor mortis)
- pH (high —> less time before rigor mortis)


Algor Mortis

The cooling of the body associated with death. Dependent on size, insulation and abdominal viscera. A street cat will cool faster than a fat sheep.


Agonal blood clotting

After death the blood will clot. The clots can be differentiated from thrombosis by having a smooth, shiny surface and easily be removed. Thrombus will be difficult to remove as they have an obvious attachment to the vessel wall.



The gravitational effect on blood aggregation after death, esp. when the animal has been lying on one side (that side will appear larger/redder in paired organs eg lungs).



The agonal discolouration of a tissue due to bacterial growth. Bacteria will produce hydrogen sulphide which turns the iron in tissues into iron sulphide. This colours the tissue black.


Biliary imbibition

The agonal colouration of bile on organs opposed to the gall bladder, ie the liver and intestines that lie close.
Imbibiation = drinking.



Agonal self-digestion of cells due to the release of intracellular lytic enzymes (ATP needed for cell membrane stability). This can resemble necrosis (grossly dark) and it’s therefore important to preform a PM asap.

Autolysis happen in different times in different organs. Enzymatically active organs undergo autolysis first, such as the stomach, intestines and pancreas. Fibre-rich tissues undergo autolysis much later, such as muscles and skin. Organs like kidneys and liver fall in between.



Agonal invasion of anaerobes, eg clostridia, after autolysis. A combination of haemoglobin breakdown and formation of hydrogen sulphide will turn the tissues green/brown and fragile. Emphysema can occur.


Agonal regurgitation

Happens as the animal gasps for breath. Note that the food stuff will be easily removed and there will be no inflammatory reaction.


Agonal intussusception

When a piece of intestine starts covering another piece of intestine, telescoping on itself. This happens as peristalsis cease. In difference to pathological intussusception, agonal intussusception is easily taken apart.


Incidental findings

Changes that are discovered during exploratory surgery or a post mortem examination that are insignificant for the health of the animal, “normal” changes. These can be inappropriately assigned as significant or even cause of death.