Recommendations for the performance of survival surgery on rodents[1] and non-mammalian vertebrate animals are based on the Eighth Edition of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (the Guide, pp. 115-119,144-145)[2] and recommendations by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC) International.

According to the Guide, "Centralized surgical facilities are cost-effective in equipment, conservation of space and personnel resources, and reduced transit of animals. They also enable enhanced personnel safety and professional oversight of both facilities and procedures" (p. 144). Centralized facilities also offer advantages in management of personnel and extraneous activities when compared to investigator-maintained laboratories used for surgery. In particular, "The number of personnel and their level of activity have been shown to be directly related to the level of bacterial contamination and the incidence of postoperative wound infection" (p. 144).

The Guide also states, "The investigator and veterinarian share responsibility for ensuring that postsurgical care is appropriate" (p. 116). Further, "Careful monitoring and timely attention to problems increase the likelihood of a successful surgical outcome... An important component of postsurgical care is observation of the animal and intervention as required during recovery from anesthesia and surgery" (p. 119).

Finally, according to a communication from AAALAC following the February 1999 site visit, "The [ARC], the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine (DLAM), and the institution's administration must strengthen the review and oversight of the animal care and use program," with a specific concern that "UCLA's surgery oversight program, involving the veterinarians, the ARC, and Department of Surgery personnel remained significantly inadequate." Though recent AAALAC inspections reported significant improvement in UCLA's surgical program, adequate oversight of surgery is still a primary concern.


Because dedicated surgical facilities provide advantages with regard to veterinary oversight and minimizing post-operative infections and other complications, the ARC requires the use of a dedicated surgical facility, such as CHS 5V-128. However, with ARC approval, exceptions may be made under the following circumstances:

  1. For mice housed within the barrier facility, the ARC accepts the use of one of the procedure rooms within those facilities for survival surgery.
  2. An investigator's laboratory may be used as a survival surgery area provided that 1) such use is scientifically justified by the investigator in the approved research protocol, and 2) the location is inspected and approved by the ARC.
  3. Justification is provided for each research protocol and specific surgical procedure, and will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Please note that convenience (i.e., proximity to the laboratory or possible conflicts in scheduling the use of the dedicated facility) is generally not considered acceptable justification for use of an investigator-maintained survival surgery area.

If the surgical procedures cannot be carried out in a dedicated surgical facility, the ARC may require that a laboratory already approved for such use be utilized in lieu of establishing a new survival surgery area.

If a suitable centralized facility becomes available for a given procedure, the ARC may rescind approval of any investigator-maintained survival surgery area.

[1] For the purpose of this policy, the term "rodent" refers to mice of the genus Mus and rats of the genus Rattus.
[2] PHS Policy IV.B states: "As an agent of the institution, the IACUC shall with respect to PHS-conducted or supported activities: (1) review at least once every six months the institution's program for humane care and use of animals, using the Guide as a basis for evaluation; [and] (2) inspect at least once every six months all of the institution's animal facilities (including satellite facilities) using the Guide as a basis for evaluation..."

Approved 3/28/05; Updated 1/18/11