The University of Iowa

Surgery - Non-Survival Surgery (Guideline)

Guidelines: The IACUC has provided a set of guidance documents (Policies, Guidelines, and Informational Sheets) for use when planning animal procedures at the University of Iowa. An exception to a Guideline must be described and justified in the Animal Protocol and approved during the normal review process.
Non-Survival Surgery

Purpose:  The purpose of these guidelines is to provide direction for personnel conducting non-survival surgery on research animals at the University of Iowa. These guidelines are intended for use by properly trained personnel listed on an IACUC-approved Animal Protocol who will be performing approved surgical procedures or assisting with those procedures. Deviation from these guidelines must be described and justified in an IACUC-approved Animal Protocol.

Instrument and Equipment Preparation

  • All instruments and materials to be used should be visibly clean at the beginning of surgery
  • Expired surgical materials such as suture or implants may be used


  • All drugs (anesthetics, analgesics etc.) and any fluids administered must not be expired

Surgery Location

  • Allocate a clean uncluttered work area away from laboratory traffic, ventilation ducts and open windows
    • Dedicate the area solely to surgical procedure(s) when in use

Area Preparation

  • Clean the work surface of visible dirt or debris
  • Apply a clean drape over the working surface where the surgery will be performed

Animal Preparation

  • Anesthetize the animal in accordance with the approved Animal Protocol
  • For prolonged procedures, apply ophthalmic ointment to both eyes to prevent corneal desiccation
  • Remove hair from the surgical site using one of the following:
    • Clipper blade
    • Depilatory cream
    • Fur plucking
  • Remove loose hair and visible dirt/debris from the surgical site
  • Wipe the surgical site clean using alcohol, surgical scrub or warm water
  • Avoid excessive wetting of non-surgical areas of the animal with alcohol or disinfectant as this can exacerbate hypothermia

Surgeon Preparation

  • At a minimum, put on a clean lab coat or scrub top and a clean pair of gloves
    • Additional personal protective equipment may be needed depending on other factors, such as the animal species or type of procedure


  • At the end of the procedure, euthanize the animal under anesthesia in accordance with the approved Animal Protocol.

Record Keeping


Last Reviewed 11/9/2022