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Investigators whose protocols include surgical procedures on research animals at Penn State must meet specific requirements for the preparation and conduct of those procedures. In addition, an online training tutorial must be competed by those who will be performing surgical procedures on rodents.

Follow this link for information on ARP Rodent Surgery Training classes.

Requirements for Conducting Rodent Surgery

Research investigators must adhere to the following points when conducting survival surgery on animals at Penn State:

  1. Consult with an ARP veterinarian during planning and IACUC protocol preparation.
  2. Use aseptic technique for all survival surgery.
  3. Keep clear written records of the surgery and postoperative care.
  4. Monitor the animals until they have recovered from anesthesia and at least daily thereafter until the surgical wound is healed.
  5. Provide analgesic medication to relieve post-procedural pain.
  6. Personnel performing surgery must have completed all required training.

Training Requirements

Personnel must complete the following training requirements prior to performing rodent surgical procedures at Penn State:

  1. Read the IACUC Rodent Surgery Guidelines .
  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, these materials should be clean and unused.
  3. Complete the ARP Rodent Surgery Training online tutorial with associated quiz.
  4. Obtain additional specific procedural training from ARP or other qualifed and experienced personnel.
  5. Participation in Rodent Surgery training classes offered regularly by the Animal Resource Program is recommended.

IACUC Oversight

A veterinarian representing the IACUC will review your surgical records every six months. The following points will be reviewed at the time of inspection:

  • Are the records legible?
  • Is the person listed as the surgeon authorized to conduct the procedure?
  • Is there a record of analgesic administration?
  • Is there a description of the procedure available?
  • Is there a record of daily post operative evaluation?

Recommendations for Learning a New Surgical 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 possible.
  • If possible, practice the procedure on anesthetized animals that will be euthanized before recovery from anesthesia.
  • Do not try to obtain experimental data from training or practice animals.

Additional Surgery Training Resources at Penn State

Veterinary Staff

Animal Resource Program veterinarians have experience with rodent surgery and are available for consultation. The veterinary staff can provide advice and/or training regarding such topics as:

  • Anesthesia and patient monitoring
  • Relevant surgical anatomy
  • Post operative care
  • Principles of aseptic surgery
  • Suturing and other wound closure techniques

Animal Resource Program Library

Located in the Centralized Biological Laboratory (CBL), the library contains a variety of books and journals pertaining to animal research, including descriptions of specialized surgical procedures.

Surgery Training Classes

Hands-on surgery training is offered regularly by the Animal Resource Program veterinary staff. Topics include:

  • Instrument selection, use and sterilization
  • Anesthesia, analgesia and patient monitoring
  • Aseptic technique and tissue handling
  • Wound closure
  • Record keeping and post-operative care

The emphasis is on fundamental surgical principles and encouraging good techniques for experimental surgery. Participation in Surgery Training classes is voluntary but strongly recommended for those with limited surgical experience. Contact the ARP for more information on these classes.