Histopathology Artifacts Quiz



This section shows autolysis and putrefaction. Once tissue is deprived of an effective blood supply autolysis immediately commences, which is the breakdown of cell components by hydrolytic enzymes released when lysosomal membranes rupture. Autolysed tissue usually shows pyknosis, karyorrhexis and karyolysis to varying degrees along with cytoplasmic vacuolation and eventually disintegration of tissue structure. It is more common in autopsy specimens than in surgical specimens. The presence of micro-organisms in tissues can also be the product of post-mortem growth derived from either organisms which form the natural flora during life (such as those of the gastro-intestinal tract) or organisms which are contaminants arriving from various sources after death. The micrograph illustrates both autolysis and putrefaction. There are poorly defined nuclei showing the typical defects already described together with very imprecise cytoplasmic staining. Also seen are many bacteria within large and small blood vessels and free in tissue spaces. There is no tissue reaction to the presence of these organisms. The answer is autolysis and putrefaction. If you only have half of the answer you can have half a mark.

© Roy C. Ellis 2004