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Office of Research Integrity

Survival Surgery Guidelines

Federal regulations and MUSC policy require the use of aseptic technique for all survival surgeries performed on vertebrate animals, regardless of species. The fundamentals of aseptic technique must be followed regardless of location of surgery, in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • Utilize a dedicated, non-porous, sterilizable location and sterile drapes.
  • Begin with sterile instruments and implantable materials: autoclave, liquid sterilant, or gas sterilization are all acceptable methods (alcohol is not a sterilant).
  • Maintain sterile instruments during procedures:
    • create a surgical field for instruments (sterile drapes or autoclave packaging are good choices).
    • may use bead-tip sterilizer between rodents.
  • Use sterile gloves and replace as necessary, i.e. touching items outside the surgical field, working on a new animal, etc. (there is no way to sterilize exam gloves).
  • Remove fur, if necessary. Prep the surgical site with an appropriate disinfectant (betadine is a good choice).
  • Sterile gauze pads are useful for touching non-sterile surfaces like surgical scopes or surgical lights.

Additional considerations:

Analgesia must be administered preemptively in most survival surgery, after induction of anesthesia, but prior to the first incision. Documentation is vital.

Expiration dates must be noted and expired supplies discarded, resterilized (when possible) or used only for terminal procedures. Expired drugs must be disposed of promptly.

Sharps container should be in a convenient location and not full (contents must be under the fill line). NO RECAPPING is permitted.

The checklist used for IACUC Inspection of rodent survival surgery labs is available for review and the following information is also strongly recommended: