Mouse Necropsy

Curr Protoc Mouse Biol. 2015 Sep 1;5(3):223-233. doi: 10.1002/9780470942390.mo140296.


Necropsy (also known as autopsy) is the post-mortem dissection of bodies after euthanasia or death and is a scientific examination conducted to observe and dissect the organs, collect tissues, and determine the extent of grossly evident disease. Research necropsies are conducted to obtain specific samples tailored according to study objectives. Diagnostic necropsy may be undertaken when unexpected illness or death occurs. The systematic collection of samples at necropsy is the critical first step in generating morphologic data from animal models. The morphologic (anatomic and histologic) data generates information on changes in cells, tissues, organs, and organ systems providing context for phenotypes (functional and morphological) to the level of the whole organism. Optimal insight into phenotype or pathophysiologic mechanisms is obtained when morphologic data is coupled with laboratory, medical, and molecular findings. This protocol provides a standard for an efficient routine mouse necropsy with brief comments on advanced or alternative techniques.

Keywords: autopsy; disease models; fixation; histopathology; phenotyping; rodent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animal Structures / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Autopsy / methods*
  • Dissection / methods*
  • Mice