Using Pulse Oximetry in Small Animal Research

Pulse oximetry has been around since the mid-1900’s, but it wasn’t until 1980 that it was readily available.

It’s popularity grew and because it was non-invasive and easy to use, pulse oximetry is regularly mandated in both hospital and home care settings.

While it pulse oximetry has been commercially available for human use for decades, it wasn’t until 2006 that a true, clinically validated small animal pulse oximeter was available life science research.

That doesn’t mean that pulse oximetry wasn’t attempted. Nonetheless, limitations with heart rate limit, sampling time, and the fact that animal blood and hemoglobin is slightly different than all were reasons why researchers couldn’t rely on pulse oximetry to monitor laboratory animals.

From translational research to surgical monitoring, small animal pulse oximetry has furthered many life science research studies. 

Translational Research & Pulse Oximetry

The goal of translational research is to take research from the lab bench to the hospital bedside as quickly as possible, but also, to take observations from the clinic back to the research lab. There are a number of ways to make this happen:

  • Use equipment and techniques in research that can be translated directly into clinical practice  
  • Integrate knowledge and experience from many different research disciplines in order to accelerate development of beneficial clinical diagnoses and treatments  
  • Increase collaboration, data sharing and a closer relationship between the clinical and the research lab

How the MouseOx® Plus Fits into Translational Research

The MouseOx® Plus small animal pulse oximeter can be an integral part of translational research:

  1. Pulse oximetry is a universally accepted clinical diagnosis and monitoring modality from emergency response through surgery to post-op care.  It is also often the sole monitor used in conscious sedation (e.g., dental office sedation).
  2. Pulse oximetry has only been available for use on mice and rats and other small laboratory animals within the last few years, with the introduction of the MouseOx Plus® Small Animal Pulse Oximeter
  3. The MouseOx® and MouseOx Plus® oximeters have been used in a wide range of research applications and published in many life science research publications including:
    • Influenza, Pneumonia, RSV & Other Acute Respiratory Disorders
    • Lung Injury
    • Lung Cancer, COPD, Sleep Apnea & Other Chronic Respiratory Disorders
    • Shock Models
    • Stroke & Brain Injury
    • Hypertension, Hypotension & Other Cardiovascular Disorders
    • Hypoxia & Inhalation Studies
    • Vital Signs Monitoring During Imaging
    • Vital Signs Monitoring During Surgery & Experiments Requiring Anesthesia
    • Pharmacology & Toxicology Studies

Using a Pulse Oximeter for Surgical Monitoring

The National Research Council’s Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals is used as a guideline for all aspects of research animal handling in universities, research hospitals and other laboratories where animal research is conducted.  It is the definitive guide for the care, feeding and use of laboratory animals. It was first published in 1963, and until 2011, its most recent edition was published in 1996.

In 2011 the 8th edition was released, and, among other changes, it addresses more fully the care of animals during surgery and anesthesia.  Pertinent excerpts that have been added to the 8th edition of the guideline include the following:

  • “For anesthesia delivery, the use of precision vaporizers and monitoring equipment, e.g., pulse oximeter for determining arterial blood oxygen saturation levels, increases the safety and choices of anesthetic agents for use in rodents and other small species. “   NIH Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 8th ed., Pg 122 Paragraph 5, 2011.
  • “Careful monitoring and timely attention to problems increase the likelihood of a successful surgical outcome (Kuhlman et al. 2008). Monitoring includes routine evaluation and recording of anesthetic depth and physiologic functions and conditions, such as body temperature, cardiac and respiratory rates and pattern (Flegal et al. 2009), and blood pressure (Kuhlman et al. 2008)…” NIH Guide for Care and Use of Laboratory Animals, 8th ed., Pg 119 Paragraph 1, 2011.

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