January 2022

2018 Call: Rodents have a right to best surgical practice

Project OC-2018-002

Surgery is an integral part of many experimental animal studies. Anaesthesia and analgesia protocols are obvious targets for refinement. Good surgical practice, however, is often neglected. Performing surgery fast, minimally invasive and with optimal peri-and post-operative care helps reduce animal suffering, enables faster recovery with fewer complications and improves the reproducibility of study results. For human and clinical veterinary surgery, it is state of the art to use aseptic technique and good peri-and postoperative care to alleviate the impact of a surgical intervention and to prevent postoperative complications. Controversially, rodent surgeons rarely adhere to these principles. There seem to be a common misconception that this is unnecessary in rodents. Even though the legal requirements for rodent and large animals are the same, it seems that researchers performing surgery on rodents often have limited medical or veterinary training and experience compared to large animal surgeons. There currently exists no generally accepted guidelines on experimental surgery in Switzerland. We think that there is an urgent need to refine the current surgical practice in rodents. Therefore, we aim to develop minimal standards for training and conduction of rodent surgery through a stepwise approach. First, we will conduct a systematic review of the available literature for the currently applied standards for experimental surgery. We will use an online survey and interviews to evaluate the current practice used by researchers performing rodent surgery to identify gaps. Based on the results we will develop a catalogue of measures involving key opinion leaders, a framework of best practice guidelines, and training modules for researchers.

Dr Petra Seebeck
Zurich Integrative Rodent Physiology (ZIRP), University of Zurich, petra.seebeck@uzh.ch, +41 44 635 50 95
Dr Stephan Zeiter
AO Research Institute Davos, stephan.zeiter@aofoundation.org, +41 81 414 23 11

Cooperation partnersJudith van Luijk, Syrcle; Merel Ritskes-Hoitinga, Syrcle; Mattea Durst, UZH; Paulin Jirkof, UZH