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St Paul Post-Op

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The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.

RAR Post-Operative Care Program

General Duties and Responsibilities

The mission of the post-operative program is to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease, pain, discomfort, or distress in dogs, cats, swine, and ruminants that have experienced general anesthesia or an invasive procedure at the Academic Health Sciences Center under a protocol approved by the University Of Minnesota Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. 

Background

Regulatory guidelines require high quality postsurgical care for all research animals. A centralized program was established in April 1987 to ensure that post-operative care for experimental animals is uniform and in accordance with acceptable veterinary practices. The program requires that all dogs, cats, sheep, goats, calves, and pigs in the Health Sciences which have undergone major survival surgery are transported to a central post-operative area where care is provided by Research Animal Resources veterinary technicians, under direct supervision of a veterinarian. Other species, such as nonhuman primates, that have undergone major survival surgery are also admitted to the post-operative care program, but may remain in their primary housing area or be transported to the centralized facility, depending on the availability of the type of housing needed. Care for these animals may be provided by RAR or may be shared with the investigator under RAR supervision. Major surgery includes invasion of a body cavity, the vascular system or the skeletal system. The duration of the stay in post-op and the exact care the animal receives will vary with the procedure and the individual animal's recovery.  Detailed records are kept throughout the post-operative period and are available to the investigative staff. 

St. Paul campus Post-Op policies for research or teaching animals undergoing surgical procedures related to their study.

General Guidelines for RAR Post-Op Care

In order to facilitate better postoperative care, the RAR post-operative staff has developed a list of recommendations to ensure a smooth recovery and prevent further postoperative complications.

  1. Post-Op Reservations: Please remember to call the post-op veterinary technician to reserve cage space in post-op at least one week in advance.  RAR realizes that special circumstances may arise, and we are willing to try and make accommodations in these rare instances. RAR reserves the right to assess a late fee of one hour technical assistance time if late reservations are received.
  2. Postoperative Care Sheets:  Please remember to indicate medications/anesthetics in dose (mg), volume (cc), route (IV, IM, SQ), and time administered.  In the event of an emergency, it is important for the veterinarian and technician to know the type and amount of drugs that have been given to the animal.  The same drug may come in different concentrations therefore it is very important to have the amount of drug given in milligrams.  In addition, please indicate the time and date that the animal is transferred to post-op.
  3. Contacting the Area Supervisors:  When an animal has undergone a procedure and is transferred to post-op for care, please remember to notify the area supervisor (via sign on cage door or in person) as to when or if the animal will be returning back to their original cage.
  4. Transferring Animals to Post-op:  Users should phone ahead to alert the post-op vet tech regarding the animal’s estimated time of arrival in Post-Op. If the post-op vet tech is not in post-op when an animal is transferred, please page 612-589-9182 or the emergency veterinary pager (this number is located next to all RAR phones). If problems occur after hours, please page the emergency veterinary pager.
  5. Blood Values:  If blood work is performed pre- or intra- procedurally (i.e. blood glucose, PCV/TP, Hgb, blood gases, etc.) it is very helpful to post-op staff to include this on the post-op care sheet. More information is better, especially in an emergency situation.
  6. Fasting Animals:  Please remember to withhold food from ruminantsat least 12 hours prior to general anesthesia, and at least 5 hours prior to anesthesia for other large animals. Failure of the animal to be fasted may be cause for the procedure to be postponed. [Guidelines for fasting requests]
  7. Extubating animals:  Animals that are intubated must be closely monitored until the endotracheal tube may be safely removed.. Just a reminder that animals may NOT be extubated until they have a gag reflex and are able to swallow on their own. Animals without endotracheal tubes that are transferred to post-op while still unable to swallow (no gag reflex) will be re-intubated and monitored by the vet tech until able to swallow.
  8. IV Catheters:  For animals which have IV catheters, infuse the IV catheter with 2-3 cc heparinized saline, cover catheter with small amount vet wrap (or similar bandage material if available), then transfer animal to post-op.  The IV catheter will be removed once the animal has fully recovered from anesthesia at no charge to the investigator.  This is recommended to allow immediate venous access in the rare instance of a post-anesthetic emergency and to eliminate unnecessary discomfort to the animal when placing an additional IV catheter for the administration of warm IV fluids in a hypothermic animal.
  9. Suture Removal:  All external skin sutures must be removed in 10-14 days.  If after 12 days, sutures have not been removed, the post-op tech will call the group to remind them that the sutures need to be removed.  After 48 hours, if sutures have not been removed, the post-op tech will sedate the animal, if necessary, remove the sutures, and the investigator will be charged.
  10. Post-Op per diem charge:  Post-op charge will be initiated at 12 pm, and is charged for any animal that has spent the night in post-op, regardless of whether a morning exam has been performed. Once an animal has been discharged from post-op, the group has until 12 pm to remove the animal before the group is charged for an additional day in post-op, unless prior arrangements have been made. The Post-Op charge covers required physical exams, routine monitoring & nursing care, extubation, routine antibiotics (e.g. ceftiofur or clavamox), furosemide (Lasix) if needed, the RAR Medical Record, and tech time to perform these procedures. Analgesics, re-intubation, fluids, wraps, IV catheterization, and any additional record-keeping (paper records, GLP records, etc) required by the group are billed separately.
  11. Standard Therapy: The post-op staff expects to work closely with individual investigators and their personnel. Depending on the requirements of particular studies, modifications may be made in otherwise "standard" approaches to treatment. Investigators must speak with the veterinarian or post-op vet tech if a study has unique requirements in terms of drugs, feeding, fluids, etc. Otherwise, treatment will be based on accepted veterinary guidelines.
  12. Research procedures:  For post-op patients who require morning treatments or procedures by the group, it would be preferable to have these procedures completed by 9 am to facilitate the effort of animal care staff to clean post-op by a reasonable hour.

As with all guidelines, there may be exceptions. If you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions, please contact the RAR Veterinary Services office at 624-9100.

Staffing

The post-operative facility is staffed by the following personnel:

1. The attending clinical veterinarian
2. A full time veterinary technician
3. A veterinary technician for evening duty
4. Several support personnel required for routine husbandry procedures

Phone Numbers:
Post-Op Facility: 625-0904

Post-Op Vet Tech Pager: 612-589-9182
Weekend on-duty Veterinarian-- Call the Emergency Veterinary Pager.  The number is posted by the phone in Post-Op. (Dial the pager.  Following the beep, dial in the call-back number.  Hang up the phone and wait for the on-call Vet to call you back.)

Hours:
Weekdays: 7 AM to 7 PM
Weekends & Holidays: AM & PM checks. Additional hours by appointment. 

Access: Investigators and their staff are encouraged to monitor their animals' progress while in post-op. All central RAR facilities require a U-card registered with RAR's office for general access at all times.  The post-op facility is unlocked during the above hours; keys are available for groups needing access at other times.

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The information contained in this site is intended as a reference for University of Minnesota investigators, and animal husbandry and veterinary staff. Drug information and dosages are derived from a variety of sources and do not necessarily guarantee safety or efficacy. Information obtained through this site should not be relied upon as professional veterinary advice. Any medications administered or procedures performed on animals should only be performed by or under order of a qualified, licensed veterinarian.