Example of “Refine”: Operating on rodents in the best possible way

Petra Seebeck, a specialist veterinarian in laboratory animal science at UZH, is researching how to optimally perform surgical procedures on mice and rats, thereby reducing the stress on test animals ("Refine").

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Je optimaler Mäuse und Ratten operiert werden, desto besser für die Nagetiere – und die Forschung. (Bild: Claus Schuh, UZH)

The standard of surgical treatment for animals in veterinary hospitals is comparable to the standards for humans in hospitals. But there is a lack of accepted guidelines for operations on mice and rats used in research. Petra Seebeck of the UZH Zurich Integrative Rodent Physiology center (ZIRP) is therefore working with Stephan Zeiter of the AO Research Institute Davos to develop minimal standards.

Less suffering, better studies

Several measures help to reduce rodent suffering during surgery: Minimally invasive procedures done as quickly as possible, sterile instruments and techniques, and optimal care. These measures mitigate the effects of surgery, reduce complications and promote recovery. This not only benefits the animals, but also improves the quality of the research work.

Improve practice and training

First, the researchers are conducting a systematic review of the standards currently used in rodent surgery and evaluating them through online surveys and interviews with researchers and experts. Based on this, the team is developing guidelines for surgical procedures to have the least possible impact on the animals. They are also developing training modules to educate researchers on how to conduct surgery in rodents.

The work is one of six projects financed by the Swiss 3R Competence Center (3RCC) in 2019.