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Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2013;2013:4533-6. doi: 10.1109/EMBC.2013.6610555.

An intelligent flow control system for long term fluid restriction in small animals.


Fluid retention is one of the most common symptoms in patients with chronic heart failure. Although fluid restriction may be a therapeutic strategy, the degree of fluid restriction necessary for the best therapeutic outcome remains unknown partly due to the lack of proper experimental method to restrict water consumption in small animals. The traditional methods that allow animals to access water only in a limited time window or within pre-determined daily volume can be stressful because the animals may become thirsty during the time of water deprivation. To provide a less stressful water restriction paradigm, we designed a feedback-control system of drinking flow to modulate the drinking behavior of small animals. This system consisted of an infrared droplet sensor for monitoring the drinking flow and a computer controlled electric valve to regulate the water availability. A light signal which synchronized with the command for opening the valve was set to establish a conditioned reflex. An animal test indicated that rats were adaptable to a precisely programmed water supply. This system may warrant investigation into the consequences of fluid restriction in chronic experimental animal study.

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