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Long-term Postoperative Care

requires careful observation of body temperature, food intake, locomotion, behavior, and signs indicating pain. For warm-blooded species "higher" than rodents, notes must be maintained in an individual animal record and each entry should be dated and initialed.

Research staff must daily examine the surgical site, monitor for signs of infection, and remove sutures or other devices at the correct time (generally 7-10 days). The surgical site should be observed for signs of infection, incision breakdown (dehiscence), or self-inflicted trauma. At least once a day, catheters should be examined and may need to be cleaned and flushed. Drains, collars, and dressings should be examined daily and changed as needed. Bandages, Elizabethan collars and restraint devices may help prevent self-mutilation; but staff must watch that the animal can obtain food and water and move about to perform bodily functions.

Monitoring food and water intake is important to successful recovery. Oral or parenteral supplementation may be necessary to maintain normal hydration and anabolic state. Special diets may be indicated during the recovery period. The quantity and character of urine and feces should be monitored, because changes could indi-cate complications such as paralytic ileus, acute renal failure, or intestinal hypermotility caused by irritation.

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