Subcutaneous compared with intraperitoneal ketamine-xylazine for anesthesia of mice

Maya Levin-Arama, Lital Abraham, Trevor Waner, Alon Harmelin, David M. Steinberg, Tal Lahav, Mickey Harlev*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Mice are commonly anesthetized intraperitoneally with a ketamine-xylazine (KX) solution. Although this route of administration allows rapid uptake of the injected drugs, its disadvantages and potential risks include pain, peritoneal irritation, and perforation of an abdominal organ; some of the risks depend on the operator's experience. We compared the effcacy of intraperitoneal and subcutaneous administration of KX in HSD:ICR, BALB/cOlaHsd, and C57BL/6JOlaHsd mice in terms of time to onset and duration of surgical anesthesia, procedure safety, and mortality. Male and female mice (n = 20 each sex and strain) were anesthetized by using the same dose of intraperitoneal or subcutaneous KX. Time to onset and duration of immobilization and time to onset and duration of surgical anesthesia according to the pedal reflex differed signifcantly between strains. Within each strain, the durations of immobilization and surgical anesthesia were comparable between the routes of administration. The sex of the mouse but not the route of administration influenced whether surgical anesthesia was achieved. None of the subcutaneously-injected mice died. After intraperitoneal injections, 30% of the female mice died, compared with 3% of the male. In addition, fewer female mice achieved surgical anesthesia, suggesting a narrow therapeutic window for intraperitoneal KX in female mice. In conclusion, surgical anesthesia of mice with subcutaneous KX (K, 191.25 mg/kg; X, 4.25 mg/kg) seems to be safe, and the subcutaneous route is generally just as effective as the intraperitoneal route. The variability among mouse strains and between sexes requires further investigation to determine the optimal dosage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)794-800
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Association for Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2016


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