Intraperitoneal Injection of Hedgehogs (Disease Investigation & Management)

Summary Information
Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords IP injection
Description This page has been prepared for the "Hedgehogs: Health and Management" Wildpro volume, and is designed for the needs of the following species: Erinaceus europaeus - West European Hedgehog

Before performing any clinical technique, the associated legal and ethical considerations should be consulted, knowledge of the potential complications/ limitations/ risk should be gained, and the level of expertise and qualification required must be ascertained.

A detailed description of fluid therapy is available. (See: Fluid Therapy for Hedgehogs). Consult the pages in combination, as necessary.

  • Fluid therapy can be given by the intraperitoneal route to hedgehog casualties with severe injury or shock. (P8.3.w2)
    • Whilst this route may not provide such optimal fluid therapy as the intraosseous or intravenous routes in some respects, the technique may be more frequently used in practice where the subcutaneous route is not used, owing to the difficulty with the former techniques in animals of small body size.
  • Whilst reports of intraperitoneal injection in conscious hedgehogs occur in the literature (See: Notes) the technique requires general anaesthesia in the vast majority of cases. Access without general anaesthesia may be possible if the animal is unconscious or severely collapsed.

Injection Site:

  • Intraperitoneal injection is usually administered just to the right of the midline at the level of the umbilicus.
    • Alternative sites as described for other small mammals may also be applicable. (V.w26, V.w44)


  • Ensure that all equipment is available prior to starting the procedure.
  • Ensure adequate restraint of the patient; usually requires general anaesthesia for the hedgehog. (See: General Anaesthesia of Hedgehogs)
  • Carefully clip and clean the injection site and disinfect with surgical spirit. Sterility is essential.
  • Position the hedgehog lying on its back or slightly towards one side so that the internal organs fall towards its back with the effects of gravity.
  • Select an appropriate needle size (gauge and length) and syringe size for the hedgehog casualty.
    • A 23 gauge, five-eighths inch hypodermic needle may be used for intraperitoneal injection in the hedgehog. (V.w26, V.w44)
  • Elevate a pinch of the abdominal wall just to the right of the midline at the level of the umbilicus.
  • Carefully advance the needle into the space created below the raised section of abdominal muscle at an acute angle, not perpendicular to the skin.
  • Judge the depth of the needle placement; note the sensation as the needle passes through the abdominal wall into the peritoneal cavity. 
  • Draw back on the barrel of the syringe to make certain that the needle is not in a blood vessel or within the lumen of a loop of intestine, bladder, etc.
  • Deliver the injection slowly but steadily, stopping if any resistance is felt.
  • Check the patient for evidence of pain or discomfort if conscious during the injection, alternatively continue to carefully monitor the general anaesthetic.
  • Withdraw needle slowly upon completion.
  • Check for bleeding from the injection site and apply pressure to aid clotting if this occurs.
  • Alternatively, fluids can be given via a 22 gauge over the needle catheter left in situ for a temporary period.( P8.3.w2)

(P8.3.w2, V.w26, V.w44)

Appropriate Use (?)
  • Fluid therapy can be given by the intraperitoneal route to hedgehog casualties with severe injury or shock. (P8.3.w2)
  • Has been reported historically in the literature for the administration of some anaesthetic combinations. Alternative routes and anaesthetic drug combinations are now preferred.
  • Absorption of fluids given the intraperitoneal route is rapid.(B284.6.w6)
  • Reports exist in the literature of intraperitoneal injection being possible in conscious unrolled hedgehogs held in an inverted position by their hind limbs. (B117.w7, B228.11.w11)
  • Alternatively, it has been suggested that debilitated hedgehogs may be held by their forelimbs in a vertical position for intraperitoneal injection.(B156.7.w7)
  • Others suggest that whilst it may be possible to give an intraperitoneal injection while a hedgehog is extended, this technique may prove difficult. (B156.7.w7)
  • Attempts at intraperitoneal injection in a conscious hedgehog are likely to result in it curling into a ball, risking accidental damage to the internal organs and pain associated with the technique and as such is not recommended. (V.w5, V.w6, V.w26, V.w44)
Complications/ Limitations/ Risk
  • Adequate skin preparation should be performed to help prevent development of local infection (e.g. peritonitis). Sterility is essential.
  • Care should be taken to ensure accurate fluid placement within the peritoneal cavity.
  • Particular care should be taken with pregnant sows.
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • Appropriate sizes of needles and syringes.
  • Required sterile electrolyte fluids.
Expertise level/ Ease of Use
  • Procedure should only be undertaken by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical experience; this would usually be someone with veterinary training.
Cost/ Availability
  • Cost of needle and syringe and fluids or drugs used..
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 particular species 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 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).
Authors Becki Lawson (V.w26)
Referee Debra Bourne (V.w5), Suzanne I. Boardman (V.w6), Tiffany Blackett (V.w44)
References  B117.w7, B156.7.w7, B228.11.w11, B284.6.w6, P8.3.w2, V.w5, V.w6, V.w26, V.w44

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