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Dispelling the myth about rodent surgery

It was once believed that rodents, by virtue of species adaptation to surviving in contaminated natural environments wre resistant to infection, not requiring sterile surgical technique. This is absolutely not true. To assist in dispelling this myth, it is illegal in the State of New York to perform rodent survival surgery without aseptic procedures. Specifically, New York State indicates the necessary components of aseptic techniques in rodents to include sterile instruments, sterile gloves, caps, masks, scrub tops for surgeons and separate surgical and animal prep areas. It is often not possible to have a fresh pack of sterile instruments available for repetitive rodent surgeries. Thus, resterilization or decontamination procedures must be available. A well accepted method is the use of the glass bead sterilizer for instruments combined with "the no touch" surgical technique.

  1. All instruments used in survival rodent surgeries must be steam sterilized (this can be done by OVR for a fee) prior to each group of surgeries (biological indicator monitoring of sterilizer effectiveness is advisable).
  2. Instruments must be kept on sterile non-porous drapes during use.
  3. Instruments must be cleaned of blood and debris by brushing or wiping with sterile water or saline and sterile gauze sponges between surgeries.
  4. If contamination has occurred, instruments must be placed in a chemical agent or a glass bead sterilizer for the appropriate period of time for the method used to be effective (or the instrument pack replaced by a new sterile instrument pack).
  5. If a chemical agent is used, instruments must be rinsed with sterile water or saline before being used on the next animal.
  6. Surgical gloves and blades should be changed between each animal or after contamination.
  7. Following surgery all instruments must be thoroughly cleaned and preferably placed in an ultrasonic cleaner and rinsed.
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