Preparation of the animal for surgery includes removal of the fur and cleansing of the skin around the surgical site.
Prior to surgery it is important that the subjects are properly identified. Obtain the weight, age, sex, colony history, and health status. Determine whether the animals have been acclimatized to the facility, generally 3-5 days rest after arriving from the vendor should be sufficient. In some instances this period may need to be up to two weeks.
Protect the eyes
The eyes of animals under general anesthesia remain open and the corneal surface will dry out if not protected. Ophthalmic ointment must be placed in the eyes of anesthetized animals to prevent corneal injury.
Aseptic surgical preparation includes removal of the hair surrounding the incision site by clipping, plucking or depilatories. This must take place in an area separate from the location of surgery. Note: Since depilatories can irritate the skin they should be applied for a short period of time and then thoroughly rinsed from the skin.
Always prepare an area approximately twice the surgical area you will need. Preparation should take place in the animal preparation room. Hair should be removed from the surgical site using clippers with #40 blade or a depilatory cream (depilatory creams can irritate the skin, so rinse the area thoroughly after using the cream) followed by a surgical scrub alternating between disinfectant and alcohol. Iodophors inactivate a wide range of microbes but their activity is reduced in the presence of organic mater. Chlorhexidine are rapidly bactericidal, persistent and active against many viruses. They are active even in the presence of blood.
Protect the patient from hypothermia
Rodents lose body heat quickly during anesthesia. For all procedures, insulate the rodent from underlying cold surfaces. If an animal will be anesthetized for more than 5 to 10 minutes (including recovery time), it should be placed on a warm surface. Warm water circulating pads or hot/cold packs that may be microwaved or heated in a water bath can protect the animal from hypothermia during and after surgery. Care should be exercised to insure that the packs do not become too hot during warming. Electric heating pads are not recommended due to variations in surface temperature that may cause burns or overheating of animals.
Scrub the surgical site
The incision area should be cleaned with a non-irritating, germicidal soap such as povidone-iodine or chlorhexidine. Sterile cotton swabs can be used for small rodents. Scrubbing should follow a circular pattern that begins at the incision site and gradually moves outward in concentric circles, as illustrated in the diagram below. A new cotton swab or gauze pad must be used with each scrub circle.