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.


Pre-hospital intubation of people with serious head injuries by inexperienced staff linked to increased death rate

This systematic review of patients with a serious head injury found that prehospital intubation by undertrained or inexperienced staff was linked to an increased risk of death when compared to no intubation or intubation after arrival in the hospital. Restoring an individual’s airway is a priority because lack of oxygen can cause death, brain damage ...


A low residue diet may be as effective as a clear liquid diet for colonoscopy preparation

This review found that a low residue diet with laxatives for a day before colonoscopy is just as safe and effective in clearing the bowel as the clear liquid diet with laxatives currently recommended. The low residue diet was also preferred by patients and better tolerated. Good clearance of the bowel assists diagnosis and treatment ...


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 ...

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