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Why do we need to assess pain - why not just give an analgesic?

Large numbers of animals undergo surgical procedures as a necessary part of biomedical research projects. It is important that these animals receive sufficient analgesics to control their pain without receiving too much, as this could cause damaging side-effects.

A recent survey of ana
lgesic use in small rodents (Ref #6), reported that many animals did not receive post-operative pain relief.

One explanation for the low reported use of analgesics was not recognising the need to give analgesics, because the animals' pain could not be reliably recognised. If we cannot assess how much pain is present, we cannot assess whether animals need analgesics, nor can we assess if treatment has been effective.

This is a major problem, as there is considerable variation in the efficacy of analgesic in different animals. For example very different doses of analgesics are needed in different strains of rodents to produce the same analgesic effects (Ref #5).

We need to be able to give the right dose of drug, at the right time, and continue treatment for as long as necessary. To do this, we need to be able to assess pain objectively.

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