Rodent stereotaxic surgery and animal welfare outcome improvements for behavioral neuroscience

J Vis Exp. 2012 Jan 30;(59):e3528. doi: 10.3791/3528.


Stereotaxic surgery for the implantation of cannulae into specific brain regions has for many decades been a very successful experimental technique to investigate the effects of locally manipulated neurotransmitter and signaling pathways in awake, behaving animals. Moreover, the stereotaxic implantation of electrodes for electrophysiological stimulation and recording studies has been instrumental to our current understanding of neuroplasticity and brain networks in behaving animals. Ever-increasing knowledge about optimizing surgical techniques in rodents(1-4), public awareness concerning animal welfare issues and stringent legislation (e.g., the 2010 European Union Directive on the use of laboratory animals(5)) prompted us to refine these surgical procedures, particularly with respect to implementing new procedures for oxygen supplementation and the continuous monitoring of blood oxygenation and heart rate levels during the surgery as well as introducing a standardized protocol for post-surgical care. Our observations indicate that these modifications resulted in an increased survival rate and an improvement in the general condition of the animals after surgery (e.g. less weight loss and a more active animal). This video presentation will show the general procedures involved in this type of stereotaxic surgery with special attention to our several modifications. We will illustrate these surgical procedures in rats, but it is also possible to perform this type of surgery in mice or other small laboratory animals by using special adaptors for the stereotaxic apparatus(6).

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animal Welfare / ethics*
  • Animals
  • Behavioral Research / ethics
  • Behavioral Research / methods*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Brain / surgery*
  • Mice
  • Neurosciences / ethics
  • Neurosciences / methods*
  • Rats
  • Stereotaxic Techniques / ethics*
  • Stereotaxic Techniques / veterinary*
  • Treatment Outcome