The latest important research summarised

Short summaries of the latest health research presented in plain English to promote use of research by all members of society.


Preventive antibiotics for gallbladder surgery not required in those at low or moderate risk

Guidelines recommend that antibiotics are only prescribed before gallbladder keyhole surgery (laparoscopy) to those at increased risk of infection. However, 36% of surgeons still prescribe them. This systematic review found that antibiotics given before removing the gall bladder by keyhole surgery for gallstone colic did not reduce the rate of surgical site infection, distant site ...


Unexpected results from a trial of therapeutic hypothermia for severe head injury

This NIHR-funded trial of cooling the body temperature (therapeutic hypothermia) to treat traumatic head injury was stopped early by the researchers because it appeared that the treatment might be harmful. People who have severe head injuries from trauma can suffer from injury to the brain, which can be very harmful, even fatal. Survivors of traumatic ...


Intermittent pressure on the legs helps prevent leg clots in immobile people after stroke

This NIHR-funded trial found that using intermittent pneumatic compression sleeves around the legs was effective in preventing deep vein thrombosis in immobile people after a stroke. When used on people admitted within three days of an acute stroke, this technique was inexpensive and also appeared to improve survival at six months. The results of this ...


Little to choose between open and keyhole surgery as options for repairing shoulder rotator cuff tears

This NIHR-funded trial in people over 50 years looked at whether open surgery compared with keyhole surgery for a common shoulder tear injury and improved shoulder function more. It found that there was little to choose between the two approaches in terms of benefits or costs. The muscles and tendons around the shoulder form the ...


Spironolactone is effective for treating resistant hypertension

This trial investigated which drug is best added to high blood pressure (hypertension) treatment if blood pressure has not come down to normal levels after taking three blood pressure lowering drugs. Such “resistant hypertension” accounts for around 10% of all people who have hypertension. The study found that adding spironolactone to the existing three-drug regimen was ...


Less stringent target oxygen levels for acute bronchiolitis are safe and effective

This NIHR-funded trial found that acute bronchiolitis in children can be safely managed to a slightly lower target level of oxygen saturation than currently used. Setting the level at which children might be taken off oxygen or allowed home at 90% or more led to resolution of cough in 15 days. Time to resolution of ...


Handwashing advice reduces the number of colds and their severity

This large trial looked at the impact of online advice to the public about effective handwashing. It found that using soap and water or hand gel reduced the number of cases of colds and flu, the severity of symptoms, the length of time people were ill and the spread of infection within households. Colds and ...


Birthplace in England follow-up analysis reveals some variation between units delivering maternity care

This study is a follow-on analysis of data from the Birthplace in England study. It consists of five sub-studies that further analyse the original Birthplace in England study data. The NIHR funded this study to provide evidence to inform the development of maternity services. It found that, irrespective of the woman’s ethnic background, age or ...


A simple test can help point to serious illness in children

This review found that the capillary refill test was useful in diagnosing serious illness or dehydration in children. The quick test, done by pressing on the nail bed, is used to monitor blood flow. The review of studies testing its accuracy showed it can be used as a “red-flag” to identify (i.e.rule in) potential serious ...


Medication impregnated dressings for central venous catheters reduce the number of bloodstream infections, but the quality of the research is low

This review found that securing central venous catheters with dressings impregnated with medication reduced the number of bloodstream infections compared to other dressings. The frequency of infection was particularly reduced with chlorhexidine antiseptic dressings. Based on the study population it is anticipated that rates might fall from about 2.8 infections per 100 people using usual ...

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