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Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Guideline #4

Aseptic Surgical Technique

Aseptic technique is required by the IACUC for all survival surgeries, unless scientific justification is provided. Aseptic technique is used to reduce microbial contamination to the lowest possible practical level. No procedure, piece of equipment, or germicide alone can achieve that objective. Standard aseptic technique includes preparation of the patient, such as hair removal and disinfection of the surgical site (alcohol is not regarded as a sterilant or disinfectant); preparation of the surgeon, such as decontaminated surgical attire, surgical scrub, and sterile surgical gloves; sterilization of instruments, supplies, and implanted materials; and the use of surgical techniques to reduce the likelihood of infection. The contribution and importance of each of these techniques will vary with the surgical procedure.

The species of animal may also influence the selection of appropriate aseptic techniques used to prevent infection. For example, skin preparation in amphibians and fish is not recommended, as such preparation will remove the protective slime coats.

If a non-sterile part of an animal, such as the gastrointestinal tract, is to be surgically exposed or if a procedure is likely to cause immunosuppression, pre-operative antibiotics might be appropriate. However, the use of antibiotics should never be considered a replacement for aseptic procedures.

In general, unless an exception is specifically justified as an essential component of the research protocol and approved by the IACUC, non-rodent survival surgery should be conducted only in facilities intended for that purpose. Rodent survival surgery should be conducted in an area that is dedicated for that use during the time that the procedures are being prepared and performed. Most bacteria are carried on airborne particles or fomites, so surgical facilities should be maintained and operated in a manner that ensures cleanliness and minimizes unnecessary traffic. In some circumstances, it might be necessary to use the operating area for other purposes. In such cases, it is imperative that the area be returned to an appropriate level of cleanliness before its use for surgery.

Modifications in standard aseptic techniques may be approved by the IACUC if scientifically justified by the investigator. Each animal use protocol proposing the use of non-standard aseptic techniques will be considered and reviewed by the IACUC on a case by case basis.