Improving rat welfare through the development of a peribulbar anaesthesia technique for ophthalmic procedures: A preliminary study

Ady Eliav, Ron Ofri, Kelsey Brust, Yishai Kushnir, Yael Shilo-Benjamini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rats are a commonly used animal model for the study of the pathogenesis and novel treatments of glaucoma, which is induced experimentally using invasive, painful procedures. Peribulbar anaesthesia (PBA) is frequently used in people and domestic animals prior to ophthalmic surgeries to provide excellent perioperative analgesia. Our goal was to develop a PBA technique adapted to rat anatomy, improving the welfare of animals used as a model for glaucoma. Eighteen rat cadavers (n = 36 eyes) were used to establish the optimal needle insertion location. Five injection techniques using 0.1 mL/100 g lidocaine 2% and a contrast agent (1:1 volume ratio) were compared via computed tomography (CT). CT images were scored for injectate distribution at four locations: extraconal, intraconal, around the optic nerve and at the orbital fissure (scale 0–8, where 0 = none and 8 = excellent). Median scores using the dorso-medial-75° (5; range 2–6) and medial-canthus (4.5; range 2–8) injection techniques were not different from the dorso-medial-45° (4; range 3–6) technique and were higher (better distribution) compared with mid-ventral (3; range 2–5) and ventro-lateral (2; range 1–3) techniques. The two superior techniques were used in two experimental rats (n = 4 eyes) to determine the volume of bupivacaine 0.5% necessary to affect corneal touch threshold (CTT) and periocular skin sensitivity (PSS). A volume of 0.05 mL/100 g decreased CTT and PSS for several hours, while a larger volume produced excessively long effects. Dorso-medial-75° or medial-canthus PBA using 0.05 mL/100 g bupivacaine are likely to provide ocular and periocular analgesia in rats, with minor transient adverse effects.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)116-126
Number of pages11
JournalLaboratory Animals
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2024


  • Rats
  • bupivacaine
  • lidocaine
  • peribulbar anaesthesia
  • refinement
  • welfare

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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