Protective cranial implant caps for macaques

J Neurosci Methods. 2021 Jan 15:348:108992. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2020.108992. Epub 2020 Oct 29.


Background: Neuroscience studies with macaque monkeys may require cranial implants to stabilize the head or gain access to the brain for scientific purposes. Wound management that promotes healing after the cranial implant surgery in non-human primates can be difficult as it is not necessarily possible to cover the wound margins.

New method: Here, we developed an easily modifiable head cap that protects the sutured skin margins after cranial implant surgery and contributes to wound healing. The protective head cap was developed in response to monkeys picking at sutured skin margins around an implant, complicating healing. The user-friendly protective cap, made from Klarity- R™ Sheet (3.2 mm thick with 36 % or 42 % perforation) is affixed to the implant post-surgically. Once secured and while the monkey is still anesthetized, the plastic sheeting is molded around the implant. The protective head cap restricts the monkey's finger access to its' wound margins while allowing air to circulate to promote wound healing.

Results and comparison with existing methods: Across two UK primate facilities, the protective head cap promoted wound healing. In monkeys that did not wear the head cap, re-suturing was necessary in ∼30 % of cases. In contrast, none of the monkeys that wore the head cap required re-suturing. The monkeys wearing the head cap also had reduced numbers of days of prescribed antibiotics and analgesia.

Conclusion: This bespoken, easily adaptable, protective head cap supports postoperative wound healing, and enhances the welfare of monkeys involved in neuroscience research.

Keywords: Behavior; Cognition; Macaca mulatta; Neuroimaging; Neurophysiology; Neuroscience; Non-human primate; Primate chair; Welfare; Wound management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain
  • Head
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Prostheses and Implants*
  • Skull* / surgery