Monitoring of Vital Signs for Long-Term Survival of Mice under Anesthesia

Anesthesia protocols for mice have been optimized, as described here, to achieve long-term imaging (up to 40 h) and facilitate survival through careful monitoring of the mice during anesthesia. Isoflurane anesthesia is the preferred method, because it can be adjusted quickly as needed during the experiment. Critical for the long survival times under anesthesia is the use of the lowest possible dose of anesthesia, which is identified by corneal reflex and monitoring of breath and heart rate, blood-oxygenation levels, and vascular distension using an oximeter probe. It is critical that the carrier gas for isoflurane is humidified. In addition, it is essential to keep mice warm and to compensate for loss of fluid by supplementing with saline. Alternative approaches rely on injectable anesthetics, which do not require dedicated equipment or high-ventilation rates in the imaging room. However, injectable anesthetics are harder to dose for image sessions of >6-10 h.