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Encyclopedia of Experiments

Mouse Headpost Implantation: A Method for Head Fixation in Rodents


This video shows a headpost implantation surgery in murine model. The headpost is used not only to head-fix and therefore restrain the mouse during experimentation, but also to securely attach a head device in freely moving animals.


All procedures involving animal models have been reviewed by the local institutional animal care committee and the JoVE veterinary review board.

1. Headpost Implantation Surgery

NOTE: Ensure the use of sterile instruments and arrange surgery and recovery in different zones. Once mastered, the implantation procedure lasts about 30 min.

  1. For analgesia, 30 min before the beginning of the surgery, subcutaneously inject buprenorphine (0.05 mg/kg) and put back the animal in its home cage.
    NOTE: Buprenorphine's analgesic effects last approximately 12 h, long after the end of the procedure. In our experience, mice do not show any signs of distress related to this intervention but a subsequent dose of 0.05 mg/kg buprenorphine is recommended 24h after the surgery. 
  2. Anesthetize the animal in a chamber with 2.5%–3% isoflurane gas. Wait 3 min and check if the mouse is properly anesthetized by observing respiration and lack of movement inside the chamber. Pass the mouse to a nose cone on a surgical table with a heating pad and, by interdigital pinching, verify that there is no withdrawal reflex and lower the isoflurane to 1.5%.
  3. Shave the head of the mouse using an electric razor. To obtain a sterile environment, rub the shaved area with iodine solution and after with 70% alcohol. Repeat this procedure two more times.
  4. Inject lidocaine hydrochloride (2%, 2 mg/kg) under the skin of the head for local anesthesia and wait 5 min for the effects to begin. To avoid eye damage due to dryness, cover the mouse's eyes with topical ophthalmic vet ointment.
  5. With a pair of blunt forceps, grab the skin at the back of the head, and with a pair of blunt scissors (or scalpel), make a longitudinal incision of about 1.5 cm to expose the skull.
  6. With the help of a scalpel, scratch the periosteum. Be careful not to scratch too hard, as the fixation of the headpost can be compromised if the skull starts to bleed slightly.
  7. Apply a drop of the green activator (see Table of Materials) on the middle of the skull. This will improve the fixation of the cement by increasing bone permeability.
  8. Prepare the cement: mix one spoon (see Table of Materials) of polymer with five drops of monomer and one drop of catalyzer. With the help of a brush, apply a generous amount of the cement mix between the lambda and bregma skull landmarks.
  9. Quickly place the headpost on the cement with a swiping motion going from lambda to bregma. After the headpost has been placed, reapply more cement around the inferior part to ensure that the headpost properly sticks to the skull. To guarantee proper fixation, make sure the cement is applied abundantly and that it dries before continuing to the next step.
    NOTE: With this fixation procedure, the headpost will not come off and allow for long-term, repeated tests; in our hands, headpost removal is <10%.
  10. Prepare the resin mix by applying a powder-to-liquid ratio that enables a smooth consistency of the mixture. Apply the resin where the cement was applied as well as around the headpost in order to protect its surface.
  11. Wait 3 min for the resin to dry and close the skin at the back of the ears with monofilament suture. With a cotton swab, apply diluted (10%–20%) iodine solution to the operated area.
    NOTE: Make sure the skin does not get stuck to the resin.
  12. Turn off the anesthesia and place the animal under a red warm light to avoid hypothermia. Place moistened food and hydrogel or another water source based in gel in the cage's floor. Do not leave the mouse unattended until it regains consciousness. As soon as the animal fully recovers from the procedure (usually, 30 min to 1 h after), place it in a cage with groups of three or four to stimulate social interactions.

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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
Blunt scissors FST 14079-10
Catalyst V Sun Medical, Japan LX22 Parkell bio-materials, Kit n°S380
Dentalon Plus Heraeus 37041
Green activator Sun Medical, Japan VE-1 Parkell bio-materials, Kit n°S380
Monomer Sun Medical, Japan MF-1 Parkell bio-materials, Kit n°S380
Ocrygel TvmLab 10779 Ophtalmic vet ointment
Polymer L-type clear (cement) Sun Medical, Japan TT12F Parkell bio-materials, Kit n°S380


Mouse Headpost Implantation: A Method for Head Fixation in Rodents
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Source: França de Barros, F., et al. Long-term Sensory Conflict in Freely Behaving Mice. J. Vis. Exp. (2019).

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