Decerebrate mammalian preparations: Unalleviated or fully alleviated pain? A review and opinion

Jerald Silverman*, Nelson L. Garnett, Simon F. Giszter, Cj Heckman, Jodie A. Kulpa-Eddy, Michel A. Lemay, Constance K. Perry, Martin Pinter

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


In experimental decerebration of mammals, the cerebral cortex and thalamus are surgically or otherwise inactivated under traditional (pharmacologic) general anesthesia. Once the effects of the pharmacologic anesthesia have dissipated, the animal remains alive, but there is neither pain sensation nor consciousness. Because the Animal Welfare Act and its regulations recognize drugs as the only means to alleviate pain, it is unclear whether a decerebrate animal should be placed in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pain and distress category D (pain or distress alleviated by drugs) or E (unalleviated pain or distress). We present a rationale for including decerebrate animals in USDA category D. We also provide a general review of decerebration and suggestions for institutional animal care and use committees having to evaluate decerebration protocols.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)34-36
Number of pages3
JournalContemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary(all)


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