Intraosseous Catheterization in Ferrets (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information

Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords  
  • Anaesthetise the ferret. (B602.2.w2, J29.6.w3)
    • This may not be required in a very depressed ferret. (B602.2.w2, J15.24.w5, J29.6.w3)
    • Local anaesthesia should be used if the ferret is not anaesthetised. (B631.18.w18)
  • Clip the hair and aseptically prepare the skin. (J15.24.w5, J29.6.w3)
  • Make a small incision in the skin over the top of the greater trochanter of the femur. (J29.6.w3) medial to the greater trochanter. (J15.24.w5)
    • Alternative sites are the humerus or tibia. (J29.6.w3)
  • Use a 20-gauge or 22-gauge 1.5 inch spinal needle. (B602.2.w2, J29.6.w3) 
    • OR A 20-gauge or 22-gauge hypodermic needle can be used with a surgical steel wire inserted down the lumen so the lumen does not become occluded while the needle is being inserted. (B602.2.w2, J29.6.w3)
    • 21- to 18-gauge, 1 - 1.5 inch needle, spinal or hypodermic. (B631.18.w18)
  • Insert the needle medial to the greater trochanter, with firm pressure and rotating the needle while advancing it until the hub of the needle reaches the skin. (J15.24.w5, J29.6.w3)
    • Note: Once the needle enters the bone marrow, it should advance much more easily. (J29.6.w3)
    • Proximal humerus: flex the shoulder and pass the needle through the greater tubercle. (J29.13.w2)
    • Tibia: flex the stifle and pass the needle through the tibial crest. (J29.13.w2)
  • Remove the stylet and attach a syringe. (J15.24.w5, J29.6.w3)
  • Slowly inject 2 - 3 mL sterile saline to check that the needle is patent and placed correctly: there should be little resistance to injection, and no swelling of the soft tissues around the site. (J29.6.w3)
  • Place butterfly tape around the needle hub. (J29.6.w3)
  • Suture the tape to the skin. (J29.6.w3)
  • Place an injection cap on the needle. (J29.6.w3)
  • Flush the needle with heparin saline. (J29.6.w3)
  • Give systemic antibiotics while the catheter is in the ferret and for a further three days after it has been removed. (J29.6.w3)
  • Give fluids slowly using a syringe pump/driver. (B631.18.w18, J29.6.w3)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • As an alternative to intravenous access, for administration of fluids and most intravenously-administered drugs. (J29.6.w3)
  • A wide range of solutions can be administered by this route. (B631.18.w18)
  • Uptake from this site is rapid. (B631.18.w18)
  • For provision of fluids by continuous injection (not bolus). (B631.18.w18)
  • Placement in the proximal femur interferes less with normal movement than placement in the other sites (humerus, tibia). (J29.6.w3)
  • The catheter can remain in situ for several days. (J29.6.w3)
  • Ferrets usually tolerate these catheters well. (B631.18.w18)
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • General or local anaesthesia is required for placement of an intraosseous catheter. (B631.18.w18)
  • This is a more invasive procedure than placement of an intravenous catheter. (B631.18.w18)
  • There is a risk of infection. (J29.6.w3)
  • Some chemotherapeutic drugs cannot be given by this route. (J29.6.w3)
  • If the ferret starts to chew the catheter, either it will need to be removed, or tape/bandage used to protect it. (B631.18.w18)
  • Not suitable for bolus injection of fluids. (B631.18.w18)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • 20-gauge or 22-gauge 1.5 inch spinal needle. (B602.2.w2, J29.6.w3)

    • 21- to 18-gauge, 1 - 1.5 inch needle, spinal or hypodermic. (B631.18.w18)

    • 20-gauge or 22-gauge hypodermic needle with a surgical steel wire inserted down the lumen. (B602.2.w2, J29.6.w3)

  • Syringe

  • Sterile saline to confirm initial placement.

  • Sterile saline with heparin for flushing.

  • Fluids and drugs as appropriate.

  • Butterfly tape.

  • Syringe pump/driver for slow administration of fluids (B631.18.w18, J29.6.w3)

Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • This procedure should be carried out by an experienced veterinarian.
Cost/ Availability
  • Costs are those associated with anaesthetic, personnel time and consumables.
Legal and Ethical Considerations In some countries there may be legislation restricting the use of this type of technique to licensed veterinarians. For example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery." (see: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).).
References B602.2.w2, B631.18.w18, J15.24.w5, J29.6.w3, J29.13.w2

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