Anaesthesia and post-operative analgesia

Based on the NHMRC Australian code of practice for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes, 8th Edition, 2013 the AEC recommends that analgesia should be used routinely after every painful procedure on animals unless there is scientific justification that this will affect the results of the experiment.

  • 1.3 People who use animals for scientific purposes have an obligation to treat them with respect and to consider their welfare as an essential factor when planning and conducting studies.
  • 1.20 Pain and distress cannot be evaluated easily in animals and therefore investigators and teachers must assume that animals experience pain in a manner similar to humans. Decisions regarding the animal’s welfare must be based on this assumption unless there is evidence to the contrary.
  • 1.21 An animal which develops signs of pain or distress of a kind and degree not predicted in the proposal, must have the pain or distress alleviated promptly. If severe pain cannot be alleviated promptly, the animal must be killed humanely forthwith. Alleviation of such pain or distress must take precedence over finishing a study
  • 1.22 Scientific teaching activities which may cause pain or distress of a kind and degree for which anaesthesia would normally be used in medical or veterinary practice must be carried out using anaesthesia appropriate to the species and the procedure.
  • 1.23 Pain management appropriate to the species, the procedure and the circumstances must be provided.
  • 1.24 Analgesic and tranquilliser usage should at least parallel usage in medical or veterinary practice.
  • 1.25 When it is not possible to use anaesthesia or analgesic agents, such as in certain toxicological or animal production studies or in animal models of disease, the end-point of the experiment must be as early as possible to the animals
  • 1.26 Neuromuscular blocking agents must not be used without appropriate general anaesthesia, except in animals where sensory awareness has been eliminated. If such agents are used, continuous or frequent intermittent monitoring of paralysed animals is essential to ensure that the depth of anaesthesia is adequate to prevent pain or distress.