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Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee

Guideline #10

Documentation of Post-Surgical Recovery

An important component of post-surgical care is observation of the animal and documentation of its recovery from anesthesia and major surgery. Major surgery penetrates and exposes a body cavity, involves orthopedic surgery, or produces significant impairment of physiological function. The intensity and type of monitoring necessary will vary with the species and the procedure and might be greater during the immediate anesthetic recovery period than later in postoperative recovery.

Documentation of post-surgical recovery is required for USDA covered species and recommended for all vertebrate species. USDA covered species includes dogs, cats, nonhuman primates, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, farm animals, or any other warm-blooded animal (* Members of the Genus Mus and Rattus are currently exempt from USDA coverage).

During the anesthetic recovery period, the animal should be in a clean, dry area where it can be observed as appropriate, and as specified in the approved protocol. Particular attention should be given to thermoregulation, cardiovascular and respiratory function, and postoperative pain or discomfort during recovery from anesthesia. Additional care may include administration of parental fluids for maintenance of water and electrolyte balance, analgesics, and other drugs.

During consultation with the attending veterinarian, appropriate charts or forms to document post-surgical recovery should be agreed upon. These should be detailed in the approved protocol. Monitoring and documentation of post-surgical recovery must be done until the animal is fully recovered from the anesthesia. After anesthetic recovery, further monitoring for pain and distress will occur using the Animal Monitoring Plan (AMP) and the Animal Observation Record (AOR).