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Surgery in Non-Mammalian Species

Aquatic Species

Avian Species

Reptiles

Oocyte Removal from Xenopus Frogs


Aquatic Species:

  • Surgical preparation of the incision site should minimize disruption of skin and mucus layer.
  • The skin at the incision site should be gently wiped with sterile gauze or cotton-tipped applicator to reduce gross contamination. If greater antimicrobial activity is wanted, the skin can be wiped with a dilute solution of povidone iodine (1:20) or chlorhexidine (1:40). Application of harsher chemical disinfectants and alcohol may irritate the skin and increase the risk of tissue damage and postoperative morbidity and mortality.
  • For larger fish species, removing large scales by extracting them caudally can facilitate a smooth incision.
  • A sterile clear plastic drape can be positioned over the animal to help isolate the incision site, create a sterile field and help retain moisture. A rim of petroleum jelly can be used to adhere the drape to the animal, if desired.
  • The animal's skin should be kept moist throughout the surgery, with care taken to prevent irrigating the incision site with contaminated anesthetic or tank water.
  • After the animal has been anesthetized, the animal should be positioned to allow easy access to the surgical site.
  • The feathers at the surgical site should either be parted for small incisions or plucked to expose the intended incision site. The skin should be exposed to create a space approximately twice the size of the intended incision. Tape can be applied to surrounding feathers to prevent them from entering the sterile field during surgery.
  • The skin should then be cleaned and disinfected with a chlorhexidine or povidone iodine-based disinfectant. The site should be scrubbed by starting at the center of the site and working outward in a circular pattern. Typically, one scrub with a disinfectant, followed by alcohol will suffice.
  • If possible, the use of a sterile surgical drape is recommended to help isolate the sterile field and reduce the risk of postoperative infection.
  • The skin should then be cleaned and disinfected with a chlorhexidine or povidone iodine-based disinfectant. The site should be scrubbed by starting at the center of the site and working outward in a circular pattern. Reptiles harbor significant pathogens on the skin, such as Salmonella, and a prolonged vigorous scrub with multiple applications of disinfectant followed by an alcohol wipe is recommended.

Avian Species:

  • After the animal has been anesthetized, the animal should be positioned to allow easy access to the surgical site.
  • The feathers at the surgical site should either be parted for small incisions or plucked to expose the intended incision site. The skin should be exposed to create a space approximately twice the size of the intended incision. Tape can be applied to surrounding feathers to prevent them from entering the sterile field during surgery.
  • The skin should then be cleaned and disinfected with a chlorhexidine or povidone iodine-based disinfectant. The site should be scrubbed by starting at the center of the site and working outward in a circular pattern. Typically, one scrub with a disinfectant, followed by alcohol will suffice.
  • If possible, the use of a sterile surgical drape is recommended to help isolate the sterile field and reduce the risk of postoperative infection.

Reptiles:

  • The skin should then be cleaned and disinfected with a chlorhexidine or povidone iodine-based disinfectant. The site should be scrubbed by starting at the center of the site and working outward in a circular pattern. Reptiles harbor significant pathogens on the skin, such as Salmonella, and a prolonged vigorous scrub with multiple applications of disinfectant followed by an alcohol wipe is recommended.1

Oocyte Removal from Xenopus Frogs:

One exception to the general rule against multiple survival surgeries is the harvest of oocytes from Xenopus species.  The IACUC acknowledges that the quality of oocytes varies a great deal from animal to animal; maximizing the productivity of a single “good producer” enhances the reproducibility of critical experiments and may reduce the overall number of animals used.  While the harvest of oocytes meets the definition of “major” surgical procedure, the procedure is quickly performed by appropriately trained personnel and the animals rapidly return to normal feeding and activity. 

Guidelines for Multiple Oocyte Harvest:

  • The maximum number of surgeries allowed per animal is six, three on alternating sides, with the sixth surgery being a terminal procedure.
  • The interval between procedures should be not less than one month.
  • The protocol must include a written description of the method used to identify animals to ensure adequate time has lapsed between surgeries (e.g., skin marking or tattooing, tank rotation, etc.).
  • Aseptic technique appropriate for aquatic species must be used to reduce microbial contamination.
  • General anesthesia such as MS-222 must be used.
  • Recommendations in the IACUC Surgery Policy and Guidelines for aquatic species must be followed.
  • Animals should be housed singly and carefully monitored for 24-48 hours post-surgery.
  • Skin sutures and wound clips, if non-absorbable, must be removed 2-3 weeks after surgery.

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