Special attention must be given to the public health concerns, such as B virus exposure, that may arise from transporting an animal through public areas. Procedures should be established for dealing with emergencies that may arise during transport, such as bites, scratches, or splashes to a member of the public or the research staff. Consideration must also be given to the potential for animal tissues or fluids to contaminate public corridors, elevators, or patient areas during the transport. Furthermore, the personnel and methods used to monitor the animals and to administer appropriate care to ensure their well-being during transport should be identified. Planning for the transfer of an animal from a vivarium to a surgery facility should include all personnel that will be involved in the transport.
The goal of this section is to provide investigators, veterinarians, and IACUCs with a general understanding of the differences between anesthetics and analgesics and the concepts underlying preemptive analgesia and balanced anesthetic regimens. The purpose underlying the use of any of these drugs or regimens is to relieve unintended pain and/or distress (experiments involving unrelieved pain and/or distress are discussed later in this chapter). As noted in the US Government Principles (IRAC, 1985), “proper use of animals, including the avoidance or minimization of discomfort, distress, and pain when consistent with sound scientific practices, is imperative”.
As noted in the Guide (p. 64),
The selection of the most appropriate analgesic or anesthetic should reflect professional judgment as to which best meets clinical and humane requirements without compromising the scientific aspects of the research protocol.
The use of professional judgment, open discussion, and the flexibility of all involved parties are particularly encouraged when tackling this complex issue.
In developing a pain-relieving regimen, it is important to understand the difference between anesthesia and analgesia. General anesthesia produces a loss of awareness or consciousness and is used for surgical procedures or experiments that cannot be conducted in awake animals (NRC, 1992). Examples of general anesthetics are inhalation anesthetics, such as isoflurane; opioids, such as fentanyl; and dissociatives, such as ketamine. Inhalation anesthetics produce unconsciousness and muscle relaxation sufficient for surgical intervention (NRC, 1992). However, many injectable anesthetics do not provide enough sedation, muscle relaxation, or analgesia to be used alone. For example, fentanyl provides sedation and analgesia, but muscle relaxation is poor (Hedenqvist and Hellebrekers, 2003); ketamine does not produce visceral analgesia (NIH, 1991). For that reason, they are seldom used as the sole anesthetic in major surgery but instead are combined with other agents in a balanced anesthesia regimen (NIH, 1991). In these cases, drugs with different pharmacological effects are used in combination to produce