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About the JHU Animal Care and Use Program

Animal Care and Use Policies and Guidelines

Survival Surgery: Major, Minor and Multiple Major (1)

Survival surgery means an animal recovers from anesthesia following a surgical procedure. Animal Welfare Act (2) regulations and Public Health Service policy require that survival surgeries be performed using aseptic techniques. Major operative procedures on non-rodent species must be done in a dedicated surgical facility. Non-major (minor) operative procedures, all surgeries on rodents and surgeries conducted at field sites do not require a dedicated facility. Investigators performing survival surgery must identify where the procedure will take place.

Individuals performing these procedures must be appropriately trained to perform them. Pain and distress should always be minimized. Veterinary consultation is required during preparations of protocols covering these procedures. To facilitate consultations the attending veterinarian has compiled information in a booklet: "Use of Experimental Animals at Johns Hopkins University." Direct consultations with a veterinarian can be arranged by calling 410-955-3273 or 410-955-3713.

Major and minor survival surgery
Major survival surgery penetrates and exposes a body cavity or produces substantial impairment of physical or physiologic functions. Minor (non-major) survival surgery does not expose a major body cavity and causes little or no physical impairment.

Multiple major survival surgery
Federal regulations permit only one major survival surgery, except when scientifically justified in writing and approved by the institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC), required as a routine veterinary procedure to protect the health or well being of the animal as determined by the attending veterinarian or approved by the Administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA).

Multiple major survival surgical procedures can be justified if they are related components of a research project and/or, if they will conserve scarce animal resources (3). The IACUC should pay particular attention to animal well being through continuing evaluation of outcomes. Cost savings alone is not sufficient justification for performing multiple major survival surgeries.

Animals surviving a major surgical procedure must be identified to prevent them from undergoing a second major survival procedure. Complete records of the procedures performed, intra- and post-procedural monitoring and all other pertinent records must be kept. Records should be legible, current and readily available for inspection.

See pages 60 to 64 in the Guide (3) for definitions and restrictions outlined above as well as guidance on surgery in laboratory animals.

1.Approved by the IACUC on: January 17, 2002
2. 9 CFR Chapter 1 Subchapter A, Parts 1, 2 and 3
3. Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, NRC, National Academy Press, 1996


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