Anesthetized Procedure Standards for Rats and Mice (Non-Survival and Survival Procedures)


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Standard on Anesthetized Procedure Standards for Rats and Mice

(see Standard on Survival Surgeries for USDA-Covered Species for USDA covered rodent standard)



Anesthesia may be utilized by researchers to temporarily sedate a rodent for procedures that are not classified as survival or nonsurvival surgeries. This document serves to describe the University's Standard for planning, documenting, using, and monitoring anesthesia and analgesia use in rodents that are not undergoing surgical procedures.

Scope of Applicability

All personnel engaged in the experimentation and/or monitoring of research animals requiring anesthetic agents in rodents.

The UNC-CH Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) expects that anyone involved in animal work at the University will comply with this Standard. Requests for exceptions to this Standard must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC.


Requirements for ALL anesthetized procedures (anesthesia only, survival surgery, non-survival surgery):

A. Pre-Procedure Planning:

  1. Procedures must be performed by qualified personnel according to the approved IACUC protocol.
  2. Contact DCM Veterinarians for consultation prior to submission of protocol.
    1. Analgesia and Anesthesia Formulary - Mice
    2. Analgesia and Anesthesia Formulary - Rats
  3. Observe the Acclimation period for received animal transfer/shipments.
  4. Pharmaceutical Grade controlled substances, emergency, anesthetic, analgesic, and euthanasia drugs may not be used beyond the date of expiration, even if used only for terminal procedures.

B. Supportive care for anesthetized animals:

  1. Apply pharmaceutical or veterinary grade ophthalmiclubricant to the eyes and reapply as necessary (unless using inhalant anesthesia lasting <5 minutes).
  2. Provide an appropriate source of heat for the entire animal, including the tail, with care taken to avoid overheating and burns from heat sources (unless using inhalant anesthesia lasting <15 minutes).

C. Documentation:

  1. Dates and times of all observations, treatments, and procedures must be recorded (including anesthetic agents and confirmation of appropriate anesthetic depth).
  2. Any deviations from the procedure as approved in the protocol must be reviewed by a DCM Veterinarian, amended to the appropriate protocol, and approved by the IACUC prior to implementation.
  3. All records must be available for review at any time by IACUC representatives and external regulatory officials. If a cage card will be the primary documentation record, then this card must be kept for the life of the IACUC protocol. If controlled substances are used, they must also be recorded in the controlled drug log per Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requirements. An example "Rodent Anesthesia/Analgesia/Procedure Record" template is available for download on the UNC Research website.

D. Additional Requirements for Survivalsurgery:

  1. Aseptic Technique: must be utilized for all survival surgeries unless otherwise approved in the protocol. See Standard for Rodent Survival Surgeries.
  2. Date of procedure, procedure name, and date/time of postoperative analgesics/observations must be recorded at the cage level. An example of the required cage card, provided in all animal rooms by DCM, can be found on the UNC Research website.

E. Non-SurvivalSurgery:

  1. Expired medical materials may be used in non-survival procedures with restrictions (refer to the Standard for Administered Agents for more details).
  2. Aseptic technique or dedicated facilities are not required for non-survival surgery. Surgical site should be clipped, surgeon should wear gloves and surgical instruments should be clean.
  3. Pharmaceutical Grade controlled substances, emergency, anesthetic, analgesic, and euthanasia drugs may not be used beyond the date of expiration.

F. Post-AnesthesiaandRecoveryCare:

  1. During recovery, the animal should be observed no less than every fifteen minutes.
  2. Rotate the body every fifteen minutes to avoid lung collapse.
  3. The animal should not be returned to the home cage until fully ambulatory.
  4. Provide the animal a quiet, warm place to recover until fully ambulatory.
  5. Place the animal in a container free of bedding (or cover bedding) until fully ambulatory to prevent aspiration of bedding material.
  6. Do not supply food or water until the animal is fully ambulatory. Once the animal is ambulatory, a moist/soft food source can be provided on the floor of the cage to reduce the amount of exertion required by a post-surgical animal.
  7. If an endotracheal tube was used, extubate the animal when swallowing reflexes return. Animal must be continuously monitored until endotracheal tube is removed.
  8. Monitor according to approved protocol. Any abnormal behavior or physiological changes should be reported to DCM Veterinary Services. (Contact information is present in all animal facilities.)
  9. Post-surgical procedures - check the incision site daily (look for swelling, infection and dehiscence).
  10. Note the animal's hydration status. This can be achieved by pinching the skin. Skin that remains tented or is slow to return indicates dehydration. Warm fluids should be given if the animal is dehydrated. If the animal does not seem to be recovering as expected, report this to DCM Veterinary Services. (Contact information is present in all animal facilities.)

G. General Postoperative AnalgesiaGuidelines:

  1. Unless the protocol has an approved exception stating otherwise, the IACUC requires the administration of analgesics for all survival surgeries.
  2. Selection of the appropriate analgesic agent(s) should be based on the type of surgical procedure, be provided for 1 to 5 days, depending on the nature of the surgery, and should be continued longer if the animal is displaying any symptoms associated with pain. (see Standard on Pain Identification and Post-Operative Analgesia).
  3. Unless scientifically contraindicated, analgesics should be given prior to surgical incision for survival surgery (preemptive analgesia). Preemptive analgesia enhances patient stability intraoperatively and has been shown to decrease postoperative pain when compared to giving first dose of analgesics after/at the end of surgery.
  4. Analgesic administration should be documented and administered according to the approved protocol and any deviations should be reviewed by a DCM Veterinarian prior to implementation and then amended to the protocol.
  5. For specific agents, dosages, and routes please refer to the DCM Formularies (links in Section A of this document) or contact DCM Veterinary Services. (Contact information is present in all animal facilities.)


Requests for exceptions to this Standard must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC. If your experimental procedure requires a significant deviation to this Standard, please amend your application(s) to include Addendum 8.0 Request for Exception to Policy.

You must indicate the following:

  1. a description of the exception;
  2. the rationale (provide scientific justification and/or justification based on animal welfare);
  3. the potential adverse effects/clinical signs resulting from the exception; and
  4. specify which (and the total number of) animals in the approved protocol that will be affected.

The IACUC will review your request at the next monthly meeting.


IACUC: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

DCM: Division of Comparative Medicine

University Standard: The minimum acceptable limits or rules used to achieve Policy implementation, enforceable by the IACUC.

DEA: Drug Enforcement Administration

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Contact Information Table
Subject Contact Telephone Email
Animal Health
DCM Veterinary Services 919-843-3407  
Office of Animal Care and Use 919-966-5569
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Article ID: 132182
Thu 4/8/21 9:25 PM
Sun 7/18/21 12:20 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
11/24/2020 11:50 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Vice Chancellor for Research
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
11/24/2020 11:50 AM
Last Revised
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05/04/2020 4:19 PM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
05/04/2020 4:19 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research-Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee