Rat intubation and ventilation for surgical research

Andrew Rivard, Katarzyna Simura, Shoeb Mohammed, Anna Magembe, Heather Pearson, Matthew Hallman, Sean Barnett, Daniel Gatlin, Robert Gallegos, Richard Bianco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Effective outcomes in cardiothoracic surgical research using rodents are dependent upon adequate techniques for intubation and mechanical ventilation. Multiple methods are available for intubation of the rat; however, not all techniques are appropriate for survival studies. This article presents a refinement of intubation techniques and a simplified mechanical ventilation setup necessary for intrathoracic surgical procedures using volatile anesthetics. The procedure is defined and complications of the procedure are elucidated that provide a justification for animal numbers needed for initiating new studies. Lewis rats weighing 178-400 g (287 ± 44) were anesthetized using Enflurane and intubated with a 16-G angiocatheter using transillumination. Mechanical ventilation (85 bpm, 2.5 mL TV, enflurane 1.5-2%) maintained adequate sedation for completion of an intrathoracic procedure. Complications of the intubation and ventilation included mortality from anesthetic overdose, intubation difficulty, pneumothorax, traumatic extubation, and ventilation disconnection. Anesthetic agents and their related effects on the rat heart and reflexes are compared. This article also underscores the importance of refinement, reduction, and replacement in the context of cardiothoracic surgery using rodent models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)267-274
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Investigative Surgery
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006


  • Anesthesia
  • Intubation method
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Rodent survival surgery


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