Guidelines for Rodent Survival Surgery

Guidelines for Rodent Survival Surgery

Approved February 16, 2006    (Download) 

Background: The most important factors contributing to a successful surgical outcome are careful pre-surgical planning, excellent surgical technique and the expertise of the surgeon. A surgeon who can proficiently complete the procedure in a minimal amount of time and cause the least tissue trauma will have the best result. According to the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, NRC, 1996, in the performance of surgery “aseptic technique is used to reduce microbial contamination to the lowest possible practical level.” The Guide also states that aseptic technique includes preparation of the patient, preparation of the surgeon, sterilization of instruments and supplies, and the use of techniques that reduce the likelihood of infection.

Policy: Surgery on rodents at the University of Washington should be accomplished using aseptic technique. In most instances, this would include:

  1. The space in which surgery is to be performed should be clean and uncluttered.
  2. Preparation of the patient including removal of hair and appropriate disinfection. (Recommendations of appropriate skin and surface disinfectants are available in the attached guidelines).
  3. Sterile instruments and a sterile surgical field.
  4. Appropriate surgical attire worn by the surgeon and assistants. Surgeon attire should typically include a face mask, clean lab coat or sterile surgical gown, and sterile surgical gloves. In some instances, the use of sterile gloves may not be necessary. Such cases must be justified in the investigator’s IACUC protocol and a description must be provided as to how the sterile field will be maintained.


American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine Position on Rodent Surgery. 

Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources, National Research Council. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Washington, DC: National Academy Press 1996.

Guidelines for Survival Rodent Surgery, Revised 09/12/12

Brown PA and Hoogstraten-Miller S. Principles of Aseptic Rodent Survival Surgery: Part 1 and Part 2 In Reuter JD and Suckow MA (Eds) Laboratory Animal Medicine and Management: International Veterinary Information Service (, 2004. (Login required)