Requirements for Animal Surgery

  • Eyes should be lubricated with a sterile ophthalmic ointment to prevent corneal drying, especially for any survival surgery.

  • Supplemental heat should be provided during surgery and recovery to maintain body temperature as animals lose their ability to regulate body temperature while under general anesthesia.
    • For large animal survival surgery, use of circulating water blankets or Bair Huggers should be used instead of electric heating pads, especially under the animal to prevent skin burns.
  • Use of supplemental fluids (saline or LRS, IV or SQ) should be considered, as well as post-operative nutritional support, such as by providing moistened food pellets on the cage floor.
  • Skin sutures or staples must be removed 10-14 days after surgery, once the incision has healed. Note: If the animal(s) will be euthanized within 28 days of the surgery, the sutures do not need to be removed.

  • Handle tissues gently –
    • Minimize the use of toothed or crushing instruments.
    • Hold the cut edge rather than grasping the middle of a tissue layer.
    • When tying off vessels, include a minimum of surrounding tissues.
    • Sparingly use electrocautery and electroscalpels, as these cause tissue necrosis.
    • Keep tissue moist during surgery.

  • Ablate “dead space” during closure - Any pockets or spaces remaining between tissue layers will fill with extracellular fluid or blood and increase the risk of developing abscesses.

  • Minimize the duration of surgery - Prolonged surgery times expose tissues to contaminants and dry out tissues and lead to an increased risk of necrosis and postoperative infection.

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