Aseptic Technique in Rodent Surgery : Preparation for Surgery

Key Points

  • An assistant should open the outer wrapping of instrument packs, sutures, and scalpel blades.
  • The surgeon needs to take care when unwrapping the pack to drop the corners of the drapes so that the back of their hand does not touch the surface of the table.
  • The surgeon drapes the animal, once again taking care not to touch any non-sterile surface.
  • Using a drape prevents sterilised items from touching the animals’ fur, and becoming contaminated.
  • When using a paper drape, a suitable-sized hole can be cut to access the surgical site – avoid cutting along one of the pre-folded sections as this can prevent the drape conforming to the animal.
  • The sterile field can be extended by using an additional paper or cloth drape.
  • Drapes may need to be cut to size or positioned carefully so that the position of the animal’s nose in the face mask can be monitored – alternatively, a transparent drape can be used.
  • Several mask designs (such as the one used to anaesthetise the mouse) provide much more secure placement of the animal’s nose.
  • The position of the head can be fixed using tape, but care must be taken not to interfere with respiratory movements, or to fix the animal’s limbs in an abnormal position.

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A comprehensive guide to help research workers apply best practice in aseptic surgical techniques in laboratory rodents.

The material was developed by Newcastle University with the support of the NC3Rs.

National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research. Newcastle University

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