Taking Care of Your Catheterized Animals

Posted on May 7, 2018 by Candace Rohde-Johnson

Working with catheterized animals can be challenging, but by revamping a few processes in your lab, you can improve patency rates and animal health. Here are a few tips that we’ve picked up along the way and that might help you, too.

1)      Keep it Clean — rats don’t show signs of infection as easily as other species, and that has led to some pretty poor practices when it comes to handling their catheters. Want to improve? Try these simple steps:

a.       Clean the site with disinfecting swab.

b.      Change your gloves, or clean them with a disinfecting swab.

c.       Pay attention to your syringes, blunt needles, and flushing solution preparation so that you aren’t introducing pathogens. You can even get them sterile and pre-packaged.

d.      If you are connecting the catheter to a system, such as an automated blood sampler or an infusion system, take care to maintain cleanliness of the system with sterile tubing, valves, and connectors.

2)      Be Secure — when working with a catheter, movement is your enemy. Make sure that the animal is properly restrained—this might mean using an actual restrainer or sling, or it may mean enlisting the help of a coworker. The less movement from the animal, the better your chances of success. This is two-fold: first, it’s easier to keep the entry site clean while you are working and second, because the physical movement of the catheter within the animal can cause inflammation and patency loss.

3)      Handle with Care — Employ techniques to minimize handling. This can mean less frequent catheter checkshands-free caging, or ports to reduce catheter interaction. The more you touch the catheter, the greater your chance of dislodging the catheter or introducing pathogens. When you do need to handle the animal, remember that you might need to hold them differently to accommodate the catheters. Most catheters are externalized between the shoulder blades—this means that scruffing is not a viable option.

While it can take time to get proficient with these procedures, it is well worth the effort. Healthier, low stress animals can be the gateway for better studies and better data. Still need some help? Contact us to discuss training or tools that can help you improve.

Written by Candace Rohde-Johnson

Candace Rohde-Johnson, BASi Director of In Vivo Products and Services, has worked in animal research for more than 13 years, beginning in the lab and moving into customer support and management roles. She has worked with clients worldwide to provide training, seminars and workshops focused on improving research results without sacrificing animal welfare.

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