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Isoflurane with morphine is a suitable anaesthetic regimen for embryo transfer in the production of transgenic rats.

Smith, J.C., Corbin, T.J., McCabe, J.G. and Bolon, B.

Laboratory Animals, 38(1), 38-43 (2004).

During our initial attempts to produce transgenic rats, we found that an anaesthetic combination typically used for embryo transfer (intramuscular injection of ketamine [90 mg/kg] with xylazine [10 mg/kg]) yielded extensive variation in both the depth and length of anaesthesia. In the present prospective study, we compared the reproductive outcomes afforded by using either isoflurane (5% for induction, 2% for maintenance, carried in 21/min of oxygen) with morphine (5 mg/kg s.c., given immediately after isoflurane induction) or ketamine/xylazine in adult (250-300 g), pseudopregnant Sprague-Dawley rats. Each animal was anaesthetized with either isoflurane/morphine or ketamine/xylazine, after which 30 microinjected eggs were transferred into the left uterine horn. The mean pregnancy rate for isoflurane/morphine (15%) was 50% greater than that achieved with ketamine/xylazine (10%). The mean number of live pups (just over five per litter) was comparable for both regimens. All rats given isoflurane/morphine quickly achieved a surgical depth of anaesthesia and experienced a rapid postoperative recovery (3-5 min). In contrast, 25% of rats injected with ketamine/xylazine did not reach a depth of anaesthesia within 10 min that was sufficient for laparotomy, and all that were anaesthetized successfully required an extended postoperative recovery period (60-90 min). These data show that isoflurane/morphine is well tolerated by microinjected embryos and suggest that its use during embryo transfer may provide a means for both reducing the number of pseudopregnant females used and increasing the speed with which rat transgenic projects are completed.