Department of Radiology

It is CACTIS policy to maintain a safe environment and promote a conscientious approach to research projects and developments.


The following are guidelines that must be adhered to by all groups who will have access to the CT Scanners for research purposes. Protecting the health and safety of PENN patients, employees, and students is top priority. Working safely with animals is a cooperative, active effort. This policy and procedures manual is intended to provide direction and requirements for safely conducting animal research in the Computed Tomography (CT) scan room.


  • Animal Contact: Includes mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds or fish. Animal contact may be direct or indirect. Indirect contact refers to contact with animal products or with items that have been in contact with the animals or their products. Animal products include unpreserved tissues, blood, excreta, body fluids or discharges, hair, dander, etc. Items that could become contaminated by animal products may include sharps, cages, clothing, gloves, etc.
  • Hazard: Anything that has been scientifically proven to have an adverse health effect in a person. Hazards can be of a chemical (i.e., disinfectants, preservatives), physical (i.e., bites, kicks and scratches, needle sticks, heavy lifting) or biological (i.e., zoonotic agents) origin.
  • Zoonotic Diseases: A group of infectious diseases transmittable between animals and humans. In some cases, the infected animal may show no signs of illness while still being capable of transmitting an infectious agent.
  • Fomite: An object that, while not capable of being infected, is able to harbor pathogenic microorganisms which may be transmitted to others.
  • Pathogen: An organism that causes disease in another organism
  • ULAR - University Laboratory Animal Resources: Responsible for the procurement and care of all University-owned animals used for teaching, research, and testing as approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) and as mandated by federal law and regulations.
  • ID (HUP): Infectious Diseases department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania
  • Occupational Health (OC): Handles hospital and university employee health and exposure issues
  • Student Health Center (SHC): This department handles the health issues of students at University of Pennsylvania
  • Researcher: Any individual, including investigators, anesthesia techs, and CT technologists, participating in the scanning of animals in the CT section.
  • National Institute of Health (NIH) Biohazard Classification Standards:
    • RG: Risk Groups partition animal research studies based on possible etiologic exposures which could occur
    • Agent: A substance that causes a change (e.g., a chemical agent, an infectious agent)
    • RG1 agents: Are not associated with disease in healthy adult humans. Agents not listed in Risk Groups (RG) 2, 3, and 4 are not automatically or implicitly classified in RG1. A risk assessment must be conducted based on the known and potential properties of the agents and their relationship to agents that are listed.
    • RG2 agents: Associated with human disease, which is rarely serious, for which preventive or therapeutic interventions are often available
    • RG3 agents: Associated with serious or lethal human disease for which preventive or therapeutic interventions may be available
    • RG4 agents: Likely to cause serious or lethal human disease for which preventive or therapeutic interventions are not usually available

Health & Safety Issues

CT technologists are not to handle the animals; their primary role is to perform the CT scan according to the protocol. They may provide assistance to the study team in properly draping the CT equipment, and ensuring equipment is disinfected after the study.

It is the responsibility of the research team to make the technologist or radiologist aware of any safety hazards, and for the removal of all contaminated trash from the CT scan room after the procedure.

Researchers working with mammals are at risk for traumatic injury due to direct animal contact, or transmission of infectious disease by the mammal or its parasites. Using appropriate handling techniques, personal protective equipment, and good personal hygiene significantly reduce the risk of injury or illness. Wearing leather or fabric gloves can reduce the risk of bites or scratches; and wearing latex or vinyl gloves and avoiding needle punctures when using syringes or other sharp instruments will minimize exposure to blood or other body fluids and feces.

It is recommended that all researchers working in the field maintain up-to-date tetanus immunizations. Research personnel who work with carnivores should be especially careful to avoid being bitten and should be immunized against rabies.

Mammals often serve as reservoirs (no signs of clinical disease are apparent) for zoonotic disease agents. These include agents such as relapsing fever, murine typhus, salmonellosis, histoplasmosis, and toxoplasmosis. Human infection with some of these zoonotic agents can lead to serious illness or death. Zoonotic diseases can be transmitted through direct contact with infected mammals or their body fluids and feces. Some bacterial diseases primarily of lagomorphs (hares and rabbits), may also be transmitted to humans by arthropod vectors, inhalation of aerosolized bacteria, and contact or ingestion of contaminated water, food or soil.

Many zoonotic diseases may be transmitted between species by arthropod vectors such as ticks, fleas and mosquitos. Direct contact with an infected animal is not necessary to acquire infection. Researchers should be aware of what diseases occur in the geographic area they are working in and take appropriate precautions to avoid exposure. In some cases, it may be prudent to use methods that ensure ectoparasites present on an animal are killed or immobilized before handling. Transmission of some zoonotic disease agents occurs through the inhalation of aerosolized urine or feces contaminated with the infected agent; therefore masks of a specific type may be necessary for the studies being performed.

A list of animals and a description of the health concerns presented by each is given in Appendix 1 of this document. This is not a comprehensive list of every possible etiologic agent for each species; however it does provide a basic idea of worst-case scenarios for possible exposure.

The precautions, procedures and treatment vary, and are generally specific for each agent or animal. A standard operating procedure for handling the specific animals must be available in the animal’s originating laboratory. It is the responsibility of the primary investigator to ensure all those involved with the study understand any special conditions.


All individuals operating within the CT environment will be trained, registered radiologic technologists, radiologists or approved users and must have reviewed procedural standards of safety, preparation, and clean up set forth in this SOP.

Unless an individual has been given user approval status through CACTIS, all animal studies must have a registered CT technologist or radiologist present to operate the CT scanner and to assure decontamination procedures are followed.

CT Guidelines

All individuals operating within the CT environment will be required to comply with the safety policies of CACTIS and the Department of Radiology. Some general guidelines are as follows:

Approved users: Only registered CT technologists or radiologist may operate CT scanners during animal research CT scans. Technologists are not allowed and should not be asked to assist with handling the animals.

  • Radiation Protection: CT by definition is a method of body imaging in which a thin x-ray beam rotates around the animal. X-rays are a form of electromagnetic radiation and therefore proper care must be taken to minimize human exposure. The CT area is equipped with lead shields and aprons to minimize researcher exposure.

    PLEASE NOTE: Women who are pregnant should not be in the CT exam room while the scanner is obtaining images.

  • Protective Clothing: All individuals having animal contact during the course of the CT procedure will maintain a standard of dress consistent with the demands of at least RG2 status. This includes [but is not limited to] isolation gowns, gloves, and shoe covers. Please note the CT section does not provide these items. If the CT staff assists with clean-up they are required to follow the same procedures to prevent transfer of anything considered infectious to their person (i.e., animal hairs, fecal waste, body fluids, etc.).
  • Supplies and Equipment: Items in the room are not automatically or implicitly classified as those for animal use. It is the responsibility of the study team to bring all necessary supplies and equipment needed for the experiment. This includes [but is not limited to] syringes, needles, fluids, IV equipment, tubing, trap buckets, plastic covering, restraint straps, ECG leads or CD's. Room oxygen and suction are available. CT technologists do not handle anesthesia equipment or tubing. Ventilators are not provided for animal experiments.
  • Equipment and Room Preparation: Prior to the animal placement into the CT scanner all contact surfaces and equipment to be used will be covered with protective plastic. All items that are susceptible to contact, droplet, or aerosolized contamination should be removed from the room. Items that cannot be removed must be covered until the post procedural clean up. The operator console must remain clean. Operators will always remove gloves and gowns before operating the system console. Investigators are required to provide absorbent pads, warming devices, and linen for use.
  • Animal Preparation for Entering the CT Environment: Animals for this facility are of the RG1 Bio-Hazard type (3.15.3). RG2 type animals (3.15.4) are scanned only through special arrangement with CACTIS and this must be declared at the time of CACTIS review. The animal must be clean. There should be no fecal material, blood, urine, or bodily fluids present on the animal. The animal must be contained in some manner to prevent leakage of fluids onto the system. The preferred method is a 3mil plastic bag around the animal hind quarters. These 3mil bags are available at any hardware store and are not provided by the CT facility. Animals moved into and out of the scanner area must not contaminate the floor or surrounding environment. Animal transportation should be in compliance with the ULAR's SOP of transporting animals. The submission form can be found here: coming soon
    • As the CACTIS facilities are located within the hospital, all investigators must have a "transit letter" from the Infectious Disease service prior to bringing any animals to the CT scanner.
  • Post-Procedural Cleanup: Header information entered into the scanner must be specific to each animal (e.g., animal ULAR number) and cannot be in a form that the central archive can misinterpret as a patient. The information must allow for matching the animal to the procedure. CT is not responsible for animal research studies going to central archive (PACS). The investigator's name must appear in the header information. Header information, operator, and investigator's name must be entered into the system’s logbook. Investigators should bring CD's with them for archiving data (data from a study is not kept on the system disc). No films are generated for any animal research study.
  • Quality Control and Assurance: Quality Assurance of the system is done though routine Preventative Maintenance done by the CT manufacturer (Siemens). Down time during animal studies does not allow for authorization of overtime for service calls. Phone numbers are available at the scanners for help with MR system issues. The CT Manager or a CT technologist is available for assistance.
  • CT Contrast Agents: CT contrast agents are available through CACTIS for an additional cost.
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