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Improving Stereotaxic Neurosurgery Techniques and Procedures Greatly Reduces the Number of Rats Used per Experimental Group—A Practice Report

  • ferry, barbara
  • gervasoni, damien
Publication Date
Sep 10, 2021
DOI: 10.3390/ani11092662
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Techniques of stereotaxic surgery are commonly used in research laboratories by a range of students, technicians, and researchers. To meet the evolving requirements imposed by international legislation, and to promote the implementation of 3R rules (replacement, reduction, and refinement) by reducing experimental error, animal morbidity, and mortality, it is essential that standard operating procedures and proper conduct following such complex surgeries be precisely described and respected. The present report shows how refinements of our own neurosurgical techniques over decades, have significantly reduced the number of animals (rats) used in experiments and improved the animals’ well-being during the post-surgical recovery period. The current pre-, per-, and post-surgical procedures used in our laboratory are detailed. We describe the practical aspects of stereotaxic neurosurgery that have been refined in our laboratory since 1992 and that cover various areas including appropriate anesthesia and pain management during and after surgery, methods to determine the stereotaxic coordinates, and the best approach to the target brain structure. The application of these optimal surgical methods that combine reliable and reproducible results with an acute awareness of ethics and animal welfare leads to a significant reduction in the number of animals included in experimental research in accordance with ethical and regulatory rules as required by the European Directive on laboratory animal welfare.

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