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Open Access Use of Injectable Potassium Chloride for Euthanasia of American Lobsters (Homarus americanus)

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Potassium chloride (KCl: 330 mg/ml) was assessed as an euthanasia agent in American lobsters (Homarus americanus). Two groups of 10 lobsters (408.2 to 849.9 g) were maintained at 11.9 to 12.1 °C ('warm') and 1.5 to 2.5 °C ('cold') to evaluate the possible effect of ambient temperature on response to KCl. Death was defined as time of cardiac arrest, as viewed and measured by use of ultrasound. The KCl solution was injected (100 mg of KCl/100 g of body weight) at the base of the second walking leg to flood the hemolymph sinus containing the ventral nerve cord with potassium. Disruption of this 'central nervous system' was immediate, followed by cardiac arrest within 60 to 90 seconds. Group median (± SD) baseline heart rate was 42 ± 14 'warm' and 36 ± 5 'cold' beats per minute. Time until cardiac arrest ranged from 35 to 90 (57 ± 18) seconds in the 'warm' group and from 40 to 132 (53 ± 34) seconds in the 'cold' group. There was no significant difference between group medians for either parameter. Histologic lesions were limited to mild to moderate acute degeneration, characterized by cell swelling, loss of contraction bands, and occasional mild cytoplasmic vacuolation of skeletal muscle at the injection site. Injectable KCl solution was an effective, reliable method for euthanasia of H. americanus.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2000

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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