TECHNIQUE

Intraperitoneal Injection of Rabbits (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords IP injection
Description Note: Techniques used in wild lagomorphs
  • While most veterinary procedures described for use in domestic rabbits can also be used in wild lagomorphs, it is much more likely that sedation or anaesthesia will be required to carry out such procedures in these animals.
  • Preparation:
    • Make sure the bladder is empty. (B600.3.w3; B601.2.w2)
  • Restraint and positioning:
    • The rabbit needs to be restrained in a position that allows the bulk of the abdominal viscera to be displaced away from where needle will be inserted (e.g. dorsal recumbency may be a suitable position). (B601.2.w2)
    • Sedation may be necessary. (B601.2.w2)
  • Technique:
    • The short needle (or alternatively, an "over-the-needle" catheter) should be introduced into the abdominal cavity, at a right angle to the body wall, just lateral to the midline (caudal to the umbilicus). (B600.3.w3; B601.2.w2)
      • Another author recommends using the inguinal quadrant for IP injections. (B600.3.w3)
      • Entering the abdomen in the lower right quadrant avoids the spleen and the caecum. (J29.15.w2)
    • Before injecting the medication, draw back on the syringe to make sure that there is no blood, urine, or intestinal contents. If this does occur then the needle and syringe must be withdrawn and a fresh attempt made (with new equipment). (B600.3.w3)
    • If a catheter has been used then the stylet should be removed and the syringe or giving set should be attached to administer the medication. (B601.2.w2)
  • Complications:
    • Perforation of the very large thin-walled caecum can occur as it occupies a large proportion of the abdominal cavity. Care must be taken to avoid this structure that is usually found in the right ventral abdomen. (B600.3.w3, B601.2.w2)
    • The injection should be positioned caudal to the umbilicus to decrease the risk of penetrating the kidneys, liver or spleen. (B600.3.w3)
Appropriate Use (?)
Indications
  • Parenteral administration of medication.
  • However, this route is not often used in the treatment of pet rabbits (it may be used more often in laboratory rabbits). (B600.3.w3)
  • Volumes up to 20 mL/kg can be given by this route. (B601.2.w2, P113.2005.w4)
    • This can be repeated at intervals of six hours. (P113.2005.w4)
    • Fluids should be warmed before being given, to avoid development of hypothermia. (P113.2005.w4)
Appropriate restraint
  • Sedation may be necessary. (B601.2.w2)
Notes
  • Sterile equipment
    • Sterile needles or catheters should be used for this procedure. 
  • Disposal of used equipment
    • Used disposable equipment needs to be put into the appropriate clinical waste container and needles should be disposed of in a sharps container.
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Restraint
    • Sedation may be necessary. (B601.2.w2)
  • In wild lagomorphs
    • While most veterinary procedures described for use in domestic rabbits can also be used in wild lagomorphs, it is much more likely that sedation or anaesthesia will be required to carry out such procedures in these animals.
  • Perforation of the caecum
    • The caecum in rabbits is very large (it occupies a large proportion of the abdominal cavity) and thin-walled. Care must be taken to avoid this structure. (B600.3.w3, B601.2.w2)
  • Penetration of other organs
    • The injection should be positioned caudal to the umbilicus to decrease the risk of penetrating the kidneys, liver or spleen. (B600.3.w3)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • A short needle.
  • An appropriately sized syringe.
Expertise level / Ease of Use This procedure should only be carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical experience.
Cost / Availability Not expensive unless costly drugs are being administered.
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).

Use of Drugs (Medication):

  • Many drugs are not registered for use in lagomorphs and care should be taken in their use, with proper regard for possible toxic effects. Consideration should be give to relevant legislation regarding the use of drugs.
  • In any country, drugs are unlikely to be specifically licensed for use in non-domestic mammals. 
    • In Europe the prescription cascade must be followed, and the client's informed consent should be obtained, whenever a drug is used which is not licensed for use in a given species. (B284.5.w5)
    • In the UK, guidelines regarding the use of drugs are set out in the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Guide to Professional Conduct 2000: (see: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Choice of Medicinal Products).
Author Nikki Fox BVSc MRCVS (V.w103)
Referee Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5); Frances Harcourt-Brown BVSc FRCVS (V.w140)
References B600.3.w3, B601.2.w2, J29.15.w2, P113.2005.w4

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