Texas Tech University

Surgical Procedures

Surgical Procedures are a common component of animal research activities, and IACUCs are often called upon to assess the details of these procedures. Further, the IACUC is responsible for determining that personnel are qualified and trained in the procedures to be performed.


Major Surgery: Penetrates and exposes a body cavity or produces a substantial impairment of physical or physiological functions.

Minor Surgery: Does not expose a body cavity and causes little or no physical impairment.

Survival Surgery: The animal awakes from surgical anesthesia.

Non-survival Surgery: The animal is euthanized before recovery from anesthesia.

Reviewing Protocols for Surgical Procedures

Some of the aspects of a surgical procedure that the IACUC reviews are:

  • details of the procedure (e.g., the actual procedure itself, pre- and post-operative care, aseptic technique, sequence of multiple procedures);
  • appropriateness of the species for the procedure proposed;
  • qualifications of the personnel performing the surgical procedures;
  • species-specific and procedure-specific facility requirements;
  • patient monitoring practices in the surgical and post-surgical periods; and
  • personnel occupational health and safety issues.

The veterinarian should always be one of the IACUC's primary sources of information on surgery and post-operative issues. Other sources include the AWRs (9 CFR 2.31(d)(1) (ix) and (x)), the PHS Policy, the Guide, and other publications. While the numerous references available provide background and a basis for reviewing surgical protocols, the IACUC relies on professional judgment to review the unique situations surrounding surgery in an experimental setting. Surgical procedures performed in a research setting have review requirements that may be different from those in a routine veterinary clinic setting.

This information can be obtained from the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Guidebook provided by OLAW