increase the safety and choices of inhalation agents for use in rodents and other small species.

Some classes of drugs-such as sedatives, anxiolytics, and neuromuscular blocking agents-are not analgesic or anesthetic and thus do not relieve pain; however, they might be used in combination with appropriate analgesics and anesthetics. Neuromuscular blocking agents (e.g., pancuronium) are sometimes used to paralyze skeletal muscles during surgery in which general anesthetics have been administered (Klein 1987). When these agents are used during surgery or in any other painful procedure, many signs of anesthetic depth are eliminated because of the paralysis. However, autonomic nervous system changes (e.g., sudden changes in heart rate and blood pressure) can be indicators of pain related to an inadequate depth of anesthesia. If paralyzing agents are to be used, it is recommended that the appropriate amount of anesthetic be first defined on the basis of results of a similar procedure that used the anesthetic without a blocking agent (NRC 1992).

In addition to anesthetics, analgesics, and tranquilizers, nonpharmacologic control of pain is often effective (NRC 1992; Spinelli 1990).

Neuromuscular blocking drugs, as noted earlier, do not provide relief from pain. They are used to paralyze skeletal muscles while an animal is fully anesthetized. They might be used in properly ventilated conscious animals for specific types of nonpainful, well-controlled neurophysiologic studies. However, it is imperative that any such proposed use be carefully evaluated by the IACUC to ensure the well-being of the animal because acute stress is believed to be a consequence of paralysis in a conscious state and it is known that humans, if conscious, can experience distress when paralyzed with these drugs (NRC 1992; Van Sluyters and Oberdorfer 1991).


Euthanasia is the act of killing animals by methods that induce rapid unconsciousness and death without pain or distress. Unless a deviation is justified for scientific or medical reasons, methods should be consistent with the 1993 Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia (AVMA 1993 or later editions). In evaluating the appropriateness of methods, some of the criteria that should be considered are ability to induce loss of consciousness and death with no or only momentary pain, distress, or anxiety; reliability; nonreversibility; time required to induce unconsciousness; species and age limitations; compatibility with research objectives; and safety of and emotional effect on personnel.

Euthanasia might be necessary at the end of a protocol or as a means to relieve pain or distress that cannot be alleviated by analgesics, sedatives, or other treatments. Protocols should include criteria for initiating euthanasia, such as degree of a physical or behavioral deficit or tumor size, that will enable a prompt

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement