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J Neurosci Methods. 2009 Jan 30;176(2):57-62. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2008.08.015. Epub 2008 Aug 19.

Tracheotomy improves experiment success rate in mice during urethane anesthesia and stereotaxic surgery.

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Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience, Department of Physiology, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oslo, Domus Medica, Sognsvannsveien 9, PB1103 Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway.


Urethane anesthesia is frequently used for acute experiments on small rodents in physiology and neuroscience. Severe respiratory distress is a common side-effect of urethane anesthesia in many strains of mice. Associated complications interfere with completion of experiments, and as a consequence more animals must be sacrificed. During experiments with stereotaxic brain surgery, we found that intubation by means of tracheotomy is an efficient way to maintain patent airways in these animals. Artificial ventilation of the animals is not required. In this paper we describe a simple, fast and reliable method for intubation of mice in experiments that involve a stereotaxic instrument. The method proved considerably easier to learn and apply than conventional intubation through the oral route. The incidence of breathing problems decreased from 77% in untreated mice to 9% in those that underwent tracheotomy. In addition, the success rate for our acute electrophysiological experiments increased from 24 to 77%. We conclude that tracheotomy reduces the number of sacrificed animals, and saves time and labor.

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