Specific sterilization methods should be selected on the basis of the physical characteristics of the materials to be sterilized (Callahan et al. 1995; Schofield 1994) and sterilization indicators should be used to validate that materials have been properly sterilized (Berg 1993). Autoclaving and plasma and gas sterilization are effective methods most commonly used to sterilize instruments and materials. Alternative methods, used primarily for rodent surgery, include liquid chemical sterilants and dry heat sterilization. Liquid chemical sterilants should be used with appropriate contact times and instruments should be rinsed with sterile water or saline before use. Bead or dry heat sterilizers are an effective and convenient means of rapidly sterilizing the working surfaces of surgical instruments but care should be taken to ensure that the instrument surfaces have cooled sufficiently before touching animal tissues to minimize the risk of burns. Alcohol is neither a sterilant nor a high-level disinfectant (Rutala 1990) but may be acceptable for some procedures if prolonged contact times are used (Huerkamp 2002).
Careful monitoring and timely attention to problems increase the likelihood of a successful surgical outcome (Kuhlman 2008). Monitoring includes routine evaluation of anesthetic depth and physiologic functions and conditions, such as body temperature, cardiac and respiratory rates and pattern (Flegal et al. 2009), and blood pressure (Kuhlman 2008), and should be appropriately documented. Use of balanced anesthesia, including the addition of an intraoperative analgesic agent, can help minimize physiologic fluctuations during surgery. Maintenance of normal body temperature minimizes cardiovascular and respiratory disturbances caused by anesthetic agents (Dardai and Heavner 1987; Flegal et al. 2009; Fox et al. 2008), and is of particular importance in small animals where the high ratio of surface area to body weight may easily lead to hypothermia. Fluid replacement may be a necessary component of intraoperative therapy depending on the duration and nature of the procedure. For aquatic species (including amphibians), care should be taken to keep the skin surfaces moist and minimize drying during surgical procedures.
An important component of postsurgical care is observation of the animal and intervention as necessary during recovery from anesthesia and surgery (Haskins and Eisele 1997). The intensity of monitoring will vary with the species and the procedure and may be greater during the immediate anesthetic recovery period. During this period, animals should be in a clean, dry, and comfortable area where they can be observed frequently by