Chronic cranial and spinal window preparation

Poor surgeries and insufficient training are the main causes of head plate detachment and instability during imaging and recordings in the Mobile HomeCage.

The videos below show the most common types of craniotomies performed at Neurotar – they are meant to help you develop or improve the crucial surgical skills and avoid common mistakes. Scroll to the end for the spinal cord surgery tutorial.

The cranial window for 2-photon imaging

In our experience, this surgery protocol ensures best window recovery rates 3-4 weeks post-surgery:

Access port in the cover glass for injections into the cortex

In this video, we show the procedure for creating a small silicone-filled access port in the cover glass. The access port allows administering drugs or fluorescent dyes into the mouse brain cortex.

The cranial window for electrophysiological recordings

Cranial window preparation for ephys applications involves two surgeries. However, acclimation, handling, and training can start in between the surgeries. Follow this link to a typical experimental outline.

The cranial window for the magnetic head fixation

This video shows the craniotomy performed with the magnetic head plate (model 13), which has a large 11 mm opening.

Head plate implantation for functional ultrasound (fUS) imaging

In this video, we demonstrate the procedure of attaching a head plate (model 14) for functional ultrasound (fUS) imaging in awake mice. Please note that fUS head plate does not fit into the standard clamp, use fUS clamp instead:

The cranial window with polymer insert for wide-field imaging

In this video, we show how to make and implant a polymer skull insert for wide-field imaging in the Invigilo or another wide-field imaging system:

Chronic spinal window

This video shows how to prepare a chronic spinal window using Neurotar’s spinal cord surgery set:

If you have questions, contact us at

Read more: a guide to cranial preparations for in vivo imaging and electrophysiology.