Rodent Surgery Training Tutorial

Requirements to Perform Surgery

The PSU IACUC requires all personnel complete the following training prior to performing rodent surgical procedures at Penn State:

  1. Complete this online IACUC Rodent Surgery Training tutorial.
  2. Complete the Procedures With Care Aseptic Technique in Rodent Surgery full training video-tutorial available online ( Please note that although PSU does not require rodent surgeons to wear sterile gowns or use sterile towels to dry their hands after washing in preparation for surgery, gowns and towels should be clean and unused.
  3. Read the IACUC Rodent Surgery Guidelines.
  4. Obtain additional specific procedural training from ARP or other qualified and experienced personnel as needed, including but not limited to the following:


Overview of the Surgery Tutorial

Included within this tutorial are recommendations for learning and conducting rodent surgical procedures as well as details regarding each step, from planning the procedure to post operative recovery. Personnel with reasonable dexterity can master most common rodent surgical techniques by adhering to basic principles. However, the new surgeon should be aware that there is much to learn and it can be difficult to maintain focus on performing a surgical technique while also maintaining sterility and trying to monitor anesthetic depth. Overall surgical competence will develop with practice and with careful attention to details.

Tutorial Contents

  1. General Principles of Surgery
  2. Record Keeping
  3. Anesthesia and Analgesia
  4. Instrument Preparation
  5. Animal Preparation
  6. Conducting Surgery
  7. Postoperative Care
  8. Pain Recognition
  9. Required quiz

To complete the online tutorial, read through each topic page starting with #1, General Principles of Surgery. At the bottom of each topic page is a hyperlink that will take you to the next topic. The final webpage contains a short quiz that must be completed and submitted to document your training.

Additional Training

Training for specific surgical procedures may be obtained from Animal Resource Program personnel or Penn State research personnel. In general, when learning a new procedure:

  • Familiarize yourself with the relevant anatomy of the species you will be using.
  • Observe an experienced surgeon perform the procedure.
  • Develop your technique first using cadaver animals.
  • If available, practice the procedure on anesthetized animals that will be euthanized before recovery from anesthesia.
  • It is not recommended that you try to obtain experimental data from practice or training animals.

Proceed to General Principles of Surgery