Introduction to Lab Animal Infusion

An infusion system can be as simple as a needle and syringe, or it can include everything from catheter to tubing lines to pump - and all the parts between. In the end, the right infusion system is the one that accounts for the species being used, the in-house expertise you have available and the ultimate goals for the study.  There is rarely a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to infusion studies and that is why we are here to help.

Our goal at SAI is to help you become aware of the options, to understand the questions you need to ask, and ultimately to gain the necessary knowledge to design a successful study.  We'll work with you; guiding you through the options, weighing the pros and cons of the available tools, and sharing our knowledge along the way.  To get you started, here are just a few of the parameters that you should consider when planning your infusion study:


In most cases, your species will be predetermined, but this shouldn’t stop you from thinking about optimum study design. To start, consider whether ambulatory or tethered infusion is the best fit for your animals and the existing caging. It’s also important to think about the handling process- will using a VAP make the animal needle-shy? Will it be more difficult to perform restraint procedures if they are carrying equipment? Are there study parameters that make it important to minimize handling?   


A well planned infusion study takes into account the strengths and limitations of the animal staff.  If your team is used to using pin-style catheters, then making a switch to a harness based system isn’t necessarily a great idea; the best equipment in the world doesn’t make any difference if your staff can’t (or won’t) make it work.  On the other hand, there are some tools that have a bit of a learning curve, but that drastically increase your chance of success, such as implanted buttons and ports in rodents. In addition to skills, make sure to consider scheduling and making the best use of the available time. For large scale infusion studies, it is a time-consuming task to fill withdrawal, flushing and locking syringes- to say nothing of the difficulty in keeping these items pathogen-free.  Look for ways to reduce the workload on your staff by using time-saving items like prefilled syringes; this will free them up to spend time on the more important tasks.


The properties of your compound can affect everything from the type of tubing you use to the dosing protocol. While we can’t answer all of your questions, we can give you a good start. This Reference Table can help identify compatibility of tubing with some of the most common solvents.  It also has common ID and ODs of tubing so that you can determine dead volume of the infusion system. You might also need to consider your syringes for their compatibility. SAI offers polycarbonate syringes which are compatible with a wide variety of compounds. Finally, the viscosity of the compound can affect everything from pump accuracy to build up of pressure in the infusion lines. Make sure your internal diameters and pump performance hold up to your compound by testing the system ahead of the study.

Organic solvents may cause deterioration of polymers. 

Compatibility testing is required for all components of the fluid path prior to in-vivo use.

We’re here to help. Please Contact Us with any questions.