Rodent Anesthesia and Post-Op Monitoring Guidance

Records of anesthesia, surgery and/or post-procedural care should, at a minimum, include:

  • Animal identification, date of procedure, protocol number.
  • A description or title of the procedure and the identification of the surgeon and/or anesthetist.
  • The dose, route, and time of any drugs administered, and the identification of the person administering the drug.
  • A notation defining the start and end of the surgical procedure as well as the start and end of anesthetic period (which may be due to euthanasia or functional recovery from the sedation or anesthesia)
  • Ongoing monitoring during anesthetic/surgical manipulations:
    • Monitoring must include a periodic assessment of anesthetic depth no less than every 15 minutes.
    • Additional useful parameters to monitor include depth and character of breathing, respiratory rate, and body temperature.
  • Notation of any variations from the normal and expected events during the anesthetic and recovery periods (including the actions taken, the time performed, and the animal’s response to these actions)
  • Assessment for pain and distress as well as any action taken to alleviate pain and distress (including pharmacological and non-pharmacologic interventions, and the response to these actions)
  • This record must be readily available to the IACUC, veterinary staff, or representatives of regulatory and accrediting organizations. Records must be maintained for 3 years beyond the expiration of the approved protocol. 

Additional Guidance on Recordkeeping:

  • Entries should be initialed or signed by the person who made the observation or administered the treatment.
  • The date and time of the entry should be recorded.
  • Entries should be made proximately to the time of the observation or treatment. Write it down as it happens.
  • Drug treatments must be recorded so that a total dose is recorded or can be calculated, e.g. either recorded in total mg, or a volume plus a concentration.
    (For example: 0.2 mg acepromazine, or 0.1 ml acepromazine (2 mg/ml))
  • Recorded observations should include descriptive language. Descriptive phrases include “active, no lameness noted”, “all food consumed, normal feces present”, “incision is intact”, “swelling extends 1 cm from wound margins, no discharge noted”, “attitude alert”. Inadequate phrases (without accompanying supporting descriptions) include “normal,” “comfortable”, “OK”, “recovered”.
  • Post-procedure observations should be recorded daily for a minimum of 3 days (and must be done in accordance with the approved IACUC protocol), counting the day of surgery as day zero, and include at least the following:
    • Observation of the comfort level of the animal. This can be evaluated by activity, mental attitude, elimination, food consumption, etc.
    • A specific check of the surgical wounds. Is there any discharge, redness, or swelling? Is the incision intact?
    • Any procedure-specific observations related to potential or unexpected complications such as organ failure, infection, ischemia, etc.
    • The post-operative care plan must include at a minimum all steps outlined in the approved IACUC animal use protocol.
  • Analgesics must be administered for the number of days indicated in the IACUC protocol.
  • If analgesics are listed as “as needed” in the protocol, the post-procedure observations must include what was seen that contributed to the decision to either administer or not administer the analgesics.
  • If animals appear painful despite analgesic administration or after the period of administration in the protocol, contact the veterinarian for guidance.