TECHNIQUE

Venipuncture and Blood Sampling in Primates (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information

Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords
  • Venepuncture in primates
  • Intravenous injection in primates
Description
Sites
  • Femoral vein.
    • Lie the primate in dorsal recumbency, legs slightly extended. Use palpation with an index finger to locate the pulsation of the femoral artery. The femoral vein is next to this.
    • This is the main site for venepuncture in primates.
    • This can be used in small species of primate, and for large samples from larger species.
  • Jugular vein.
    • Particularly useful in small species.
  • Tibial vein
    • Useful in prosimians, guenons and larger primates.
    • On the caudal surface of the gastrocnemius muscle, just under the skin. If the upper thigh is compressed this is easy to detect.
    • Quite small and easily collapses when blood is taken.
    • Vein of choice for intravenous injections.
  • Cephalic vein
    • Useful in the apes.
Restraint/Training/Sedation
  • It may be possible to restrain smaller primates for venipuncture.
  • Primates can be trained to present a limb for venipuncture using positive reinforcement training.
    • This may require modification of the cage to allow a limb to be presented.
  • Sedation is required if the primate is not trained and cannot be safely physically restrained.
Procedure
  • Locate the vein.
  • Disinfect the skin over the venipuncture site.
  • Use a needle and (for blood sampling) a syringe or vacuum tube of appropriate size:
    • Prosimians, marmosets, tamarins: 0.4 mm needle, 1 mL syringe (25-26 gauge needle, 1 mL syringe (B671.13B.w13b))
    • Saimiri sp. squirrel monkeys etc: 0.9 mm needle (20 gauge 0.5 inch) (B671.13B.w13b), 1-2.5 mL syringe or small vacuum tube.
    • Larger species: 1.2 - 2.0 mm needle, 2.5 - 10 mL vacuum tube.
  • If taking blood, no more than 1 mL per 100 g body weight per month.
  • If intravenous catheterisation is difficult due to low blood pressure, a sterile cut-down onto the vein is recommended. (D425.3.14.w3n, P3.2005b.w2)
  • Withdraw the needle and place pressure over the vein for at least one minute to avoid haematoma formation.

(B671.13B.w13b, D425.3.17.w3q)

Appropriate Use (?)
  • For intravenous administration of drugs and fluids.
  • For collection of venous blood samples.
Notes --
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • A large Vacutainer tube risks collapsing the vain, particularly in smaller species.
  • A haematoma may form following venipuncture unless adequate pressure is applied to the venipuncture site after the needle has been withdrawn. (B671.13B.w13b)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Appropriate disinfectant e.g. iodine solution.

  • Equipment for blood sampling:

    • Prosimians, marmosets, tamarins: 0.4 mm needle, 1 mL syringe (25-26 gauge needle, 1 mL syringe (B671.13B.w13b)
    • Saimiri sp. squirrel monkeys etc: 0.9 mm needle (20 gauge 0.5 inch) (B671.13B.w13b), 1-2.5 mL syringe or small vacuum tube.
    • Larger species: 1.2 - 2.0 mm needle, 2.5 - 10 mL vacuum tube.
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 expensive drugs are being administered. 
  • Cost will be increased if anaesthesia is required.
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 ferrets 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 Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
Referee  
References B671.13B.w13b, D425.3.14.w3n, D425.3.17.w3q, P3.2005b.w2

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