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Open Access Method to Quantify Tail Vein Injection Technique in Small Animals

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Injection errors, which are often not readily recognized, can greatly impact the outcome of a pre-clinical research study. As a result, unrecognized misadministration of test compounds can render a high cost to the biomedical community. In this report, we propose six criteria for a reagent designed to assess tail vein injection technique in small animals and suggest a reagent, colloidal gold labeled with the stable isotope 197Au, that satisfies these criteria, thereby describing and validating for the first time a method to quantify technical compliance in tail vein injections. In an application of this reagent, we show the degree of variation experienced by technologists performing tail vein injection procedures in mice. In this study, mice were manually restrained and received an injection in the tail vein. One hour after injection, the mice were euthanized, various organs including the tail (the site of the injection) were collected, and their gold content was quantified by neutron activation. The three experienced animal technologists in the study were tested for tail vein injection proficiency in 30 mice. Prior to the study, the supervisor stated that a misinjection occurs when more than 10% of the intended volume remains in the tail. In light of this criterion, 12 of the 30 injections were misadministered: two with technologist 1, three with technologist 2, and seven with technologist 3. Although she was able to correctly rank the injection skills of the three technologists used in this experiment, i.e., technologist 1 and 2 more better skilled than technologist 3, the supervisor greatly underestimated the extent and degree of injection failures for the procedure. The results of the study illustrate the potential problems associated with the technical compliance with this common laboratory procedure and suggest that there is a need to validate injection methods and a need to monitor technical competence. Application of reagents similar to colloidal gold and the methods presented will facilitate the development of improved methods of teaching injection technique and monitoring technical quality in the laboratory setting.

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Document Type: Case Report

Affiliations: BioPhysics Assay Laboratory (BioPAL), Inc., 80 Webster Street, Worcester, Massachusetts 01603

Publication date: January 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (JAALAS) serves as an official communication vehicle for the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science (AALAS). The journal includes a section of refereed articles and a section of AALAS association news. The mission of the refereed section of the journal is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information on animal biology, technology, facility operations, management, and compliance as relevant to the AALAS membership. JAALAS accepts research reports (data-based) or scholarly reports (literature-based), with the caveat that all articles, including solicited manuscripts, must include appropriate references and must undergo peer review.

    Attention Members: To access the full text of the articles, be sure you are logged in to the AALAS website.

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