ARC Policy

Multiple survival surgeries on a single animal may be permitted only if scientifically justified by the investigator and approved by the ARC. The number of survival surgeries performed must be limited to the minimum number necessary to achieve the research objectives and must be determined with due consideration for minimizing the pain and distress experienced by any one animal.

Whenever possible, all operative procedures should be done at one time to minimize post-operative discomfort and distress to the animal. Cost or convenience is not considered to be adequate justification for the conduct of multiple survival surgeries.

Emergency multiple surgeries may be done to correct complications due to previous surgical procedures or as part of the process of providing veterinary care; however, these must be done in consultation with a DLAM veterinarian. Euthanasia should be considered as a humane alternative to surgical repair in these cases if the animal is in poor health or suffering pain or distress that cannot be alleviated.


USDA Animal Welfare Act Regulations §2.31(d)(1)(x)(A) and (B): No animal will be used in more than one major operative procedure from which it is allowed to recover, unless justified for scientific reasons by the principal investigator, in writing; or required as routine veterinary procedure or to protect the health or well-being of the animal as determined by the Attending Veterinarian.

Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, p. 30: Regardless of classification, multiple surgical procedures on a single animal should be evaluated to determine their impact on the animal's wellbeing. Multiple major surgical procedures on a single animal are acceptable only if they are (1) included in and essential components of a single research project or protocol, (2) scientifically justified by the investigator, or (3) necessary for clinical reasons. Conservation of scarce animal resources may justify the conduct of multiple major surgeries on a single animal, but the application of such a practice on a single animal used in separate protocols is discouraged and should be reviewed critically by the IACUC. When applicable, the IO must submit a request to USDA/APHIS and receive approval in order to allow a regulated animal to undergo multiple major survival surgical procedures in separate unrelated research protocols (USDA 1985, 1997a). Justifications for allowing animals not regulated by the USDA to undergo multiple survival surgeries that meet the above criteria should conform to those required for regulated species. If multiple survival surgery is approved, the IACUC should pay particular attention to animal well-being through continuing evaluation of outcomes. Cost savings alone is not an adequate reason for performing multiple major survival surgeries.

Some procedures characterized as minor may induce substantial postprocedural pain or impairment and should similarly be scientifically justified if performed more than once in a single animal.

Approved 6/9/03; Updated 1/18/11