Keep in mind that rabbits are capable of constriction of their peripheral
blood vessels, particularly when distressed.
Use of a topical anesthetic such as EMLA
cream or lidocaine jelly helps minimize this reaction. may help the artery to re-dilate.
Patience and gentle massage
Withdraw the amount of blood desired. For a single blood collection, up to 15% of the
total blood volume based upon month. If weekly collections are
the animal’s body weight may be collected once a necessary, the maximum volume will be 7.5% of the
total blood volume based or collections exceeding
upon the animal’s body weight. Routine the previous values will require routine
weekly collections evaluation of the
rabbit’s packed cell volume (PCV).
*See example calculations below.
Following completion penetration site with a
of blood withdrawal, remove the needle
minutes to ensure adequate hemostasis. Verify that no further bleeding is occurring and return Follow post-injection monitoring procedure above.
Example – determination of blood collection volume: (a) Single collection per month: 4 kg rabbit 50-60 ml/kg X 4 kg body weight = 200-240 ml total blood volume X 0.15 = 30-36 ml maximum blood that can be collected once/month (b) weekly collection of 4 kg rabbit 50-60 ml/kg X 4 kg body weight = 200-240 ml total blood volume X 0.075 = 15-18 ml maximum blood that can be collected weekly.
Note: The Norwegian offers video Reference Centre for Laboratory Animal Science and Alternatives has slide/video demonstration of this technique on line.
Terminal Procedure – Intracardiac blood collection Note: Intracardiac puncture for large volume blood collection is limited to terminal procedures only and is performed under general anesthesia. It is not an acceptable method for routine or repeat blood collection.
Anesthetize the rabbit with xylazine (7-10 mg.kg) + ketamine (40-50 mg/kg) IM.
Once the animal has been verified to be in a surgical plane of anesthesia, lay animal on its back or side, depending upon the phlebotomist’s preference.
Prep the area with 70% alcohol or chlorhexidine and insert needle at base of sternum (under the Xiphoid) at a 30-45° angle just lateral to the midline (rabbit's left side) or the needle can be inserted into the lateral thoracic region toward the area of maximal heart beat between the ribs of the rabbit's left side midway between it’s sternum and back under the left elbow.
If using a syringe, slowly aspirate the desired amount, changing syringes as needed. If using vacutainer tubes push the tube onto the outer needle once placement is correct. The blood should flow quickly into the container. Collect blood until no further blood is able to be obtained; death occurs via exsanguination.
Verify that heart has stopped. If it is still beating, euthanize with 100 mg/ml barbiturate euthanasia solution intracardiac. This will ensure that the heart has stopped prior to disposal.
Wait at least 15 minutes, then confirm that death has occurred before putting the carcass into a bag and placing it into a medical waste disposal bin in the morgue freezer.