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NIHR Signal Lamotrigine is not effective for the treatment of borderline personality disorder
Lamotrigine, a mood-stabilising drug, is not clinically effective for the treatment of borderline personality disorder. Over one year follow up, this NIHR-funded trial did not find a difference between lamotrigine and placebo for borderline personality disorder-related symptoms and behavioural problems, depressive symptoms, self-harm, social functioning or quality of life outcomes. Borderline personality disorder is a severe mental health disorder characterised by rapid and distressing fluctuat...
NIHR Signal Gallbladder surgery through a single-incision is more risky than a multiple incision technique
Single-incision keyhole gallbladder removal surgery carries increased risk of adverse events, such as puncturing the gallbladder, compared with the more standard multiple-incision procedures. However, in experienced hands, there may be benefits such as reduced pain and less scarring after the operation. Current guidance recognises that using a single incision for laparoscopic cholecystectomy is more complex than using multiple incisions. The risks and benefits of all options available for pat...
NIHR Signal Testing oxygen levels of newborn babies helps find serious heart defects
Measuring oxygen levels in newborn babies as part of routine care can identify cases of critical congenital heart defects sooner than waiting until symptoms appear. If 10,000 babies were screened, pulse oximetry could correctly identify about 5 of the 6 expected asymptomatic cases and might miss one. This international research suggests there would be about 14 false alarms. Waiting until babies are at least 24 hours old minimises the number of these false positives. Babies with critical heart d...
NIHR Signal Increasing inhaled steroids for short periods reduces asthma exacerbations
Taking four times the usual dose of inhaled corticosteroids for up to two weeks can modestly reduce the chance of asthma worsening. This NIHR-funded trial assessed increasing the inhaled corticosteroid dose compared with staying on the usual dose, as part of a self-management plan. Participants were adults and adolescents with uncontrolled asthma and had at least one exacerbation needing additional medical attention in the year before the trial. Quadrupling the inhaled corticosteroid dose when...
NIHR Signal One week of steroids may be as effective as two weeks in managing severe COPD
A shorter course of steroids lasting 3 to 7 days appears as effective as the recommended 7 to 14-day standard treatment for managing a flare-up of severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This update to an earlier Cochrane review looked at randomised clinical trials comparing a short course (7 days or fewer) with a longer course (7 to 14 days) of steroids given by mouth or injection. All participants had been admitted to hospital, but none required mechanical ventilation. The evidence sug...
NIHR Signal Alternative sedative reduces the risk of acute kidney injury following cardiac surgery
The sedative drug dexmedetomidine can reduce the risk of acute kidney injury when given during non-emergency cardiac surgery. Trial participants who received dexmedetomidine were a third less likely to develop acute kidney injury than those receiving placebo or other treatments. There was no difference in mortality or length of hospital stay. This systematic review identified 10 studies of 1,575 participants. Surgical procedures included coronary artery bypass grafting with or without valve sur...
NIHR Signal Nurse staffing levels linked to reports of missed care in adult wards
Nurses are more likely to report omitting necessary care in acute inpatient wards when registered nurse staffing levels are low, even if there are additional healthcare assistants. Care categorised as planning and communication is reported as missed more often than clinical care. NHS hospitals are responsible for ensuring that the number and skills mix of nursing staff matches patient needs. Previous reviews have shown links between lower registered nurse staffing levels and poor patient outcom...
NIHR Signal Self-monitoring improves control of high blood pressure compared with GP monitoring alone
Allowing patients who have inadequately controlled high blood pressure to monitor their own blood pressure at home helps their GPs to optimise their management. Patients who self-monitor and visit or talk to their GP when needed for medication adjustments achieve 4mmHg lower systolic blood pressure over 12 months compared with those relying only on the measurements made by a GP without self-monitoring. Effects are similar if patients write down their measurements to send to the GP or do so via ...
NIHR Signal Cartoons are promising for reducing dental anxiety in children
Cartoons delivered on laptops, projectors or 3D goggles with sound can help distract anxious children who fear dental procedures. Dental anxiety can prevent children from attending the dentist for care, and this type of distraction could offer a useful tool to help them. This review looked at a range of audiovisual approaches tested in trials of healthy children receiving dental treatment under local anaesthetic. The children were assessed for physiological measures related to emotional state (...
NIHR Signal Opioid drugs are no better than standard painkillers for long-term back and joint pain
People with long-term back pain, or osteoarthritis of their hips or knees, do not get better pain relief from opioid drugs and are more likely to get side effects than those who take paracetamol or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like naproxen or ibuprofen. A US study assigned 240 patients to either opioid or non-opioid pain relief drugs and measured their pain over 12 months. Those who were assigned opioid drugs had less relief of their pain and also were more likely to have si...
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