Aseptic Technique in Rodent Surgery


This section of the Procedures with Care website has been developed in consultation with colleagues across Europe and North America. The standards and approaches we recommend can easily be achieved in any facility undertaking experimental surgical techniques.

We have adopted a pragmatic approach in preparing these tutorials. We have balanced the ideal of adopting full aseptic procedures, equivalent to those in medical surgical facilities, with an approach that we consider to be easily achieved in any facility undertaking experimental surgical procedures in rodents.

We highlight in the audio commentary the ideal approach and the methods that are currently considered acceptable.

Why adopt aseptic surgical procedures?

Aseptic technique is the method adopted to eliminate all potential sources of contamination of the surgical field. Adopting high standards of asepsis will reduce the risk of post-surgical wound infections developing. This is important for both animal welfare and scientific reasons.

Wound infections can cause pain, distress, and if severe can result in the breakdown of the surgical wound and generalised infections that cause severe illness or death of the animal. Even low-grade infections can result in changes to the animal’s physiology that may interact or interfere with specific research procedures.

How do we attain these standards?

Adopting good aseptic technique requires careful attention to the preparation of the operating room environment, the animal, the surgeon, and all materials that will come into contact with the surgical field. The video sequences in this tutorial deal with all of these aspects of preparing and undertaking aseptic surgery.

Note for tutors

A trainers pack is available for those responsible for training staff in aseptic surgical technique. Trainers packs include the video files together with supplementary material which can be downloaded and used in your own presentations.

Other Resources


We thank the NC3Rs and Newcastle University for their support in developing this tutorial. We would like to also thank colleagues who have assisted us in the review process.


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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