Splenic Aspiration in Ferrets (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information

Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords  
  • Restrain the ferret in dorsal or lateral recumbency. (B602.2.w2, P120.2006.w6) In dorsal recumbency or scruffed. (J29.6.w3)
  • Sedate the ferret if necessary. (B602.2.w2, P120.2006.w6) It is often not necessary to sedate the ferret. (J29.6.w3)
  • Clip the hair/shave the skin over the left hand side, over the spleen where it is easily palpable, and prepare aseptically. (B602.2.w2, J29.6.w3, P120.2006.w6)
  • Use one hand to hold the spleen and stabilise it against the body wall. (B602.2.w2, J29.6.w3, P120.2006.w6)
  • Use the other hand to insert a 25-gauge needle, attached to a 3 mL syringe, through the prepared area and into the spleen. (B602.2.w2, P120.2006.w6)
  • Aspirate using vigorous suction to obtain a small amount of bloody fluid in the syringe. (J29.6.w3)
    • OR: "stab" the spleen several times with the needle, without aspirating. (B602.2.w2)
  • Withdraw the needle from the ferret. (J29.6.w3)
  • Detach the needle from the syringe. (B602.2.w2)
  • Attach a clean syringe full of air and use this to express the contents of the needle onto several slides. (B602.2.w2)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • To obtain cytological samples to assist with diagnosis in ferrets with splenomegaly (e.g. to distinguish neoplasia versus extramedullary haematopoiesis). (J29.6.w3, P120.2006.w6)
Notes --
Complications/ Limitations / Risk --
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • 25-gauge needle

  • 3 mL syringe

  • Clean microscope slides for the sample.

Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • This procedure should only be carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical experience.
Cost/ Availability The costs include those of sedation (if required), personnel time, consumables, and testing of the sample.
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).
Author Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
References B602.2.w2, J29.6.w3, P120.2006.w6

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