FEB 05, 2015 10:30 AM PST

Importance/effect of surgical training, skills and experience on performing surgical procedures within studies

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  • Surgery Consultant, Vetslius
      Delphine Bouard received her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine in 2003 from the vet school of Lyon. By 2010, she received a specialist diploma in laboratory animal medicine (French ECLAM training program: DESV LAS). Dr. Bouard has been working in the laboratory animal field for 10 years, with a focus in models involving surgical preconditioning.

      In 2004, she joined Biomatech-Namsa, an international CRO specialized in medical devices and preclinical tests. She was their designated veterinarian, study director and named surgeon. Her responsibilities as surgeon increased over time and she worked on various models and several species (NHPs, dogs, small ruminants, pigs, minipigs, rats, rabbits, mice), developing experimental models with the help of specialized surgeons.

      She joined Charles River in 2008 as their European Surgery and Associated Services Manager. As European Surgery manager, she was in charge of surgery teams' management, new model development team, training and business development. Dr. Bouard became their Veterinary Professional Services (VPS) manager for Charles River France in 2012. As VPS, she was in charge of veterinarian regulatory affairs, veterinary support for operations & customers and animal welfare.

      Since October 2014, Dr. Bouard has been consulting at Vetsalius. Vetsalius offers consultancy services in experimental surgery (on site surgery, training, model development) for a diverse array of clients in Europe but also in China. She has experience working with animal suppliers, pharma companies, diverse CROs, medical devices suppliers, biotechs as well as Universities and Vet schools.

      Dr. Bouard is a member of the AFSTAL (Laboratory Animals national French association) and ESLAV (European Society of Laboratory Animal Veterinarians). She has also been co-presiding the ComVet group since 2012, a French AFSTAL commission of approximately 70 members (essentially vets) organizing seminars and exchanges of information.


    In the context of an experimental project requiring surgical preparation of animals, training is not only required for technicians lacking a strong surgical background but also for more experienced staff. The objectives of experimental surgery trainings are not only achieving good survival and success rates but also producing homogeneous animal batches, allowing reliable and reproducible responses to an experimental stimuli. The training program should be adapted to the surgeons experience and skills, as well as to the actual difficulty of surgical procedures to be performed. It should include a theoretical part that allows the trainee to understand the context of the surgery, identify the key anatomical structures and consequences of the operation on the animal's physiology. Strain, sex and age range specificities should also be taken in account. To insure adherence to the 3R's, ex-vivo models should be used as much as possible. Inanimate training tools or non-survival surgeries should be used whenever possible, unless a key component of surgical success requires live subjects. The number of key gestures repetitions required to reach training objectives described in the literature varies from 4 to more than 50 for the most complex models. Initial goals and associated number of required repetitions could be predefined but should remain flexible and adapted to the actual surgeon learning curve. Once the initial training goals are met, a continuous improvement/retraining program should be implemented. It should include controls that allow concomitantly step-by-step improvement and technical drift prevention.

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