The Pathology Unit of the IEC provides around-the-clock service to horse owners and veterinary surgeons.


Each year the IEC typically undertakes approximately 600 post mortem examinations of which c. 70% are carried out free of charge to the horse owner. This is free service (for fetuses and foals under two weeks of age) is possible because of the financial support received by the IEC each year from the Irish Foal Levy. The vast majority of the IEC’s annual Foal Levy grant is allocated to the Pathology Unit to facilitate this service.


Surveillance: The Pathology Unit provides post mortem, histopathological and other examinations required to determine the immediate cause of death, to monitor patterns in disease incidence, and to provide surveillance for the detection of exotic diseases. The detailed reports which it provides are often a key element of insurance or litigation claims.


Analysis of tracheal and bronchoalveolar lavage samples assists in the investigation and diagnosis of horses with respiratory tract disease. A technique where bronchoalveolar lavage can be performed on a routine basis in practice was developed by the Head of the Unit, Dr. Ursula Fogarty. The technique is now widely used throughout the world.


Fertility assessment: A significant facet of the work carried out by the Pathology Unit for the benefit of breeders is the histopathological examination of uterine tissue, placental membranes, and aborted fetal material to assist in the assessment of mare fertility and foal health. It also collaborates closely with Weatherbys Ireland in the provision of its haemolytic foal screening service.


Research: The Pathology Unit participates in research and education programmes on a national and international stage including the development of new diagnostic techniques in the areas of reproduction and foal disease. The Unit also plays a role in the investigation and registration of pharmaceutical products. Non-equine diagnostic work is primarily carried out for the Department of Agriculture.