The roles of veterinarians in society range from clinician to researcher, food inspector to enlisted military officer. Critical to the educational training of all of these veterinarians is the fundamental understanding of basic anatomy, both gross and microscopic. The knowledge of normal anatomy provides the basis of both physiology as well as pathology. Relating gross (e.g. physical exam findings) or microscopic changes (e.g. surgical biopsy) to specific disease processes first requires firm knowledge of “normal”; hence, disease is detected as an alteration of normal!
Teaching histology in the veterinary curriculum is the challenging process of conveying to the future veterinarian the clinical relevance of microscopic anatomy, which may not be inherently appreciable to the first-year veterinary student. The authors are fortunate to instruct professional students both in the preclinical curriculum and the senior clinical rotations where the relevance is readily apparent. When a senior student looks at a cytology of an osteosarcoma, they intuitively know that the neoplastic cells observed are osteoblasts with a small proportion of non-neoplastic osteoclasts. The same goes for ultrasonography of equine ovaries where they can extrapolate the “black hole” in an ovary as a large pre-ovulatory follicle containing an oocyte and lined by granulosa cells. From the instructor’s perspective, it is easy to go overboard in terms of the amount of information conveyed to the student in this type of course, particularly if the instructor is passionate about a particular organ system! The modern veterinary medical curriculum is constantly changing and expanding. It is the instructor’s responsibility to focus on not only conveying the necessary information, but packaging this information in the context of clinical medicine. For this reason, this text focuses on conveying the basic material required for understanding the microscopic anatomy to better understand the disease processes that they will learn later in the curriculum. Included is a basic overview of veterinary histology of commonly reviewed organ systems, with the goal of illustrating important concepts of cells, tissues, and organs in a manner that we hope is not only accessible to first-year veterinary students, but serves as a reference for clinical medicine and pathology.
The textbook is meant to be utilized as both a companion to the course “Comparative Structure and Function of Tissues”, VM6530 as well as a standalone reference for basic veterinary microscopic anatomy.