Jilly's autopsy pictures


The islet cell tumour (insulinoma) on the pancreas.


Tumours on liver on the very left and the mottled spleen sort of in the middle.


Kidney with all the fat around it (already cut off and removed, Louise is holding it with her right hand).

Jilly's histopathology report:

History Suspect insulinoma for several years. Ataxia, lethargy etc. Been on Preds for several months. Euthanasia.

Diagnosis Pancreatic Islet Cell Tumour


The submission consists of fixed necropsy samples of the pancreas, liver, spleen and kidney from a 6 year-old, neutered female ferret. (Jilly was actually 7 years old.)

PANCREAS: the section contains a large, reasonably well circumscribed neoplasm. This is composed of moderately well differentiated, predominantly cuboidal or columnar cells arranged chiefly as nests and cords. There is little nuclear atypia and mitoses are not particularly frequent. Patches of necrosis are present throughout the mass. The histopathology is consistent with a pancreatic islet cell tumour (insulinoma), confirming your clinical diagnosis.
LIVER: at one end of the sample submitted is a large, multilobular tumour histologically similar to that present in the pancreas and doubtless representing metastasis from the pancreatic tumour, confirming it was a malignant insulinoma.
SPLEEN: the parenchyma is moderately congested and hypercellular, but there is no evidence of metastasis in the section.
KIDNEY: there is mild, multifocal interstitial fibrosis, moderate tubular dilatation, with occasional small cortical cysts, occasional basophilic tubules, a few small foci of lymphocytic infiltration and the odd sclerosed glomerulus. These are all moderately common incidental findings in the kidneys of older ferrets. Whether any of them have any association with the effects of the insulinoma is uncertain.

According to most sources, pancreatic islet cell tumours are the commonest neoplasms of ferrets. They arise mostly from the beta cells and secrete insulin, hence their popular name of "insulinoma". Clinical signs are referrable to hypoglycaemia. Adenomas are generally small, well circumscribed and may be cured by excision, but carcinomas tend to be infiltrative, sometimes multiple and eventually metastasise to the draining lymph nodes, liver and sometimes other abdominal viscera. Peak prevalence of these tumours is between 4 and 7 years old and there is no sex predilection, although there is a suggestion that neutered animals are more frequently affected than intact ones.