The Thin Blue Line: A Review and Discussion of Aseptic Technique and Postprocedural Infections in Rodents

Dale M. Cooper, Robroy Mciver, Richard Bianco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A basic tenet of animal welfare philosophy is that pain and distress must be minimized whenever possible without interfering with the goals of the research. Aseptic technique during surgical procedures is essential to prevent pain and distress associated with post-procedural infections. However, many investigators have found that applying the aseptic techniques used for large animal and human surgery is not always practical when performing surgery on small rodents. Furthermore, the efficacy of some of these techniques for preventing post-procedural infections has been questioned. This review examines what is known about the development of postprocedural infections in animals and humans and the methods used to prevent them. Detection of postprocedural infections in rodents can be difficult unless objective measurements of physiologic indices are made. These measurements should be used experimentally to assess the relative benefits of various methods for preventing postprocedural infections. Measures of contamination, such as quantitative bacterial cultures, also can be used; however, they do not reliably predict infection rates. Much of the dogma about decontamination of skin and hair prior to surgery is not supported by valid experimental evidence. Hair removal may not be necessary. Alcohol may in fact be a better disinfectant than is often credited. Draping should be used when it contributes to the maintenance of the sterile field, but when it does not, modification of surgical technique may provide more protection from infection than the drape does. The contribution of surgical technique to the prevention of postprocedural infections is probably equal to that of aseptic technique. Further research needs to be done to assess various aseptic techniques for use in rodent surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalContemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2000


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