VM8054 Veterinary Histology


Author: Dr. Thomas Caceci

The readings listed here are from Wheater's Functional Histology: A Text and Colour Atlas (4th Edition) by B. Young, and J.W. Heath. This is an exceptionally useful book, one that will serve as a reference for your future classes as well as this one. It will also be helpful to have around in a practice setting, so don't be too quick to sell it back to the Bookstore when you finish First Year!

I'm often asked why I chose this book, which is human-oriented. The answer is that it has the best and most numerous color illustrations, and color is essential in teaching and learning the very visually-oriented disciplines of histology and pathology. The economic realities of the textbook market in the USA are such that publishers won't cover the cost of publishing color images for the relatively small market in specialized veterinary texts; but they will happily do so in the cut-throat competition to supply the country's human medical schools. Hence the best histology texts and atlases are all human-oriented. Luckily, there isn't much species variation in the histology of mammals. At the level of the microscope, whether there are two feet or four, we all look pretty much alike (see Ecclesiastes III:19).

These readings go into considerable detail, and much as I'd like to impose my iron will and make you learn all of it, I have succumbed to reality and know that I can't. Regard this as exceptionally valuable material that will greatly facilitate understanding of the structures you'll be expected to identify, without trying to memorize every bit of it.


The relevant chapters for each topic are:

Please note that in its current iteration, VM8054 does not include any material on ruminant or avian variations in histology. You are nor responsible for the exercises or parts of exercises dealing with these topics.

Birds differ from mammals in several notable ways, especially in their respiratory and digestive organs. Those of you interested in avian medicine would do well to learn something of the mechanics of the respiratory system in birds, as there are profound clinical consequences of the avian model.  There is an exercise in the CD on this topic, as well as one on the specializations of ruminant digestive organs.

Additional Reading

Strongly recommended as the best guide to general mammalian histology, is Bloom and Fawcett: A Textbook of Histology (12th Edition), by Don W. Fawcett. It is the histology text to which all others are compared; in truth, the "Bible of Histology." It has been in continuous issue for nearly sixty-five years, and nothing else in the field even comes close to it. Its text is exhaustive, detailed, and elegantly written; its illustrations are simply the best there are. I chose not to require it because of its very high price and (for our purposes) excess detail, but histology books don't get any better than this. You are urged to consult it when you need a thorough clarification on some point.

Another useful veterinary oriented work is Textbook of Veterinary Histology (5th Edition) by Dr. H. Dieter Dellman and Dr. JoAnn Eurell. You are also encouraged to use whatever supplementary materials you find helpful, of course. There are many fine atlases and texts on the market, all with their good and bad points, and anything that helps further your understanding of the material should be used.

There are digestive system differences between ruminants and other quadrupeds. Most histology texts (all of the best ones) are human oriented, but there are a few veterinary texts available. The references to "Banks" in the required reading list below are to Applied Veterinary Histology (4th Edition) by William J. Banks. Dr. Banks' book also has some excellent line drawings that complement those in Wheater's book. The pages listed below from this work cover species-specific variations of different systems, which are not covered in this course. 

Computerized Resources

E-mail is the fastest and best way to get answers to your questions about the material. Contact me with course-related materials at the dedicated address:



Over the years I've prepared a number of autotutorial slide sets on histology of various organ systems, and put them in the CVM Library. Each consists of a set of 2"x2" slides and a narrative script; the sets include schematics, drawings, tissue sections, and reconstructions, and they are a very useful and valuable resource. These are supplementary materials, and a copy of each will be available during the appropriate lab session. You have access to the library copies whenever the CVM library is open, and you should contact the librarians for additional information on their use.


The CVM Library has a set of 26 videotapes, each approximately 1/2 hour long, dealing with the histology of body systems. These tapes are excellent supplements. They aren't required, but are provided as self-help materials to use at your own pace.

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VM8054: Veterinary Histology