The assessment of post-vasectomy pain in mice using behaviour and the mouse grimace scale

Matt Leach, Krystal Klaus, Amy Miller, Maud Scotto di Perrotolo, Susana G. Sotocinal, Paul Flecknell

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Current behaviour-based pain assessments for laboratory rodents have significant limitations. Assessment of facial expression changes, as a novel means of pain scoring, may overcome some of these limitations. The Mouse Grimace Scale appears to offer a means of assessing post-operative pain in mice that is as effective as manual behavioural-based scoring, without the limitations of such schemes. Effective assessment of post-operative pain is not only critical for animal welfare, but also the validity of science using animal models.

Methodology/Principal Findings
This study compared changes in behaviour assessed using both an automated system (“HomeCageScan”) and using manual analysis with changes in facial expressions assessed using the Mouse Grimace Scale (MGS). Mice (n = 6/group) were assessed before and after surgery (scrotal approach vasectomy) and either received saline, meloxicam or bupivacaine. Both the MGS and manual scoring of pain behaviours identified clear differences between the pre and post surgery periods and between those animals receiving analgesia (20 mg/kg meloxicam or 5 mg/kg bupivacaine) or saline post-operatively. Both of these assessments were highly correlated with those showing high MGS scores also exhibiting high frequencies of pain behaviours. Automated behavioural analysis in contrast was only able to detect differences between the pre and post surgery periods.

In conclusion, both the Mouse Grimace Scale and manual scoring of pain behaviours are assessing the presence of post-surgical pain, whereas automated behavioural analysis could be detecting surgical stress and/or post-surgical pain. This study suggests that the Mouse Grimace Scale could prove to be a quick and easy means of assessing post-surgical pain, and the efficacy of analgesic treatment in mice that overcomes some of the limitations of behaviour-based assessment schemes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere35656
Number of pages9
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


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