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NIHR Signal C-reactive protein is not useful in diagnosing late-onset infection in newborns
The blood level of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker indicating inflammation in the body, is not accurate enough alone to diagnose late-onset infection in newborn infants. Late-onset neonatal infection, occurring more than three days after birth, is potentially serious and is relatively common. Tests measuring the blood level of CRP are widely used by physicians to guide their decision on whether or not to start antibiotic treatment for suspected infection. This NIHR-funded review found 20 st...
NIHR Signal Brain scan may predict long-term disabilities in babies with brain injury
Magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a type of scan which shows brain biochemistry, could help predict whether there will be long-term effects of brain injury (encephalopathy) in new-born babies. It is usually done alongside an MRI. Researchers scanned 82 babies being treated for brain injury, using MRI and also magnetic resonance spectroscopy. One biomarker tested at seven days after birth, thalamic N-acetylaspartate, correctly identified all babies who went on to have adverse developmental outcom...
NIHR Signal Dermoscopy plus visual inspection aids melanoma diagnosis
Dermoscopy, using a relatively cheap handheld magnifying device alongside naked eye observation, is more accurate in the diagnosis of melanoma than visual inspection alone. It can also provide a photographic record which can be used for reference during follow-up. This NIHR-funded review included 104 studies of skin lesions in the dermatology clinic that looked suspicious or were present in those at high risk of developing melanoma. Melanoma is a rare form of skin cancer. Inspection of the lesi...
NIHR Signal An ultrasound scan is not as useful as a CT scan in assessing trauma
Ultrasound scans can be a useful tool to help pinpoint internal bleeding or organ damage in the chest or abdomen, but a negative scan cannot rule out damage, especially in children. Many emergency departments use portable ultrasound scanners to assess for internal damage when someone has been subject to blunt trauma (for example, involved in a car accident or fallen from a height). Ultrasound is free from radiation, non-invasive and can be used at the bedside, making it convenient if CT is not ...
NIHR Signal Repeat thyroid function tests for healthy older people are not needed
Older adults with normal thyroid function or subclinical thyroid dysfunction show notable long-term stability of their thyroid hormone levels. This suggests that it is safe for GPs not to routinely retest older adults unless they have risk factors or develop clinical symptoms of overt thyroid dysfunction. Over five years, about 0.2% older adults with normal thyroid function will develop overt hypothyroidism and about 3.5% will develop subclinical hypothyroidism. Amongst those with subclinical h...
NIHR Signal Stool test is useful before GPs refer for possible inflammatory bowel disease
A stool test by GPs has been shown to support referral decisions for young adults, not suspected of cancer, to investigate possible inflammatory bowel disease (IBD - which includes Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis). This study supports current NICE guidelines that the calprotectin stool test can usefully inform patient referral pathways and reduce unnecessary invasive tests such as colonoscopy. High levels of faecal calprotectin are associated with gut inflammation, as occurs in IBD...
NIHR Signal Delirium is common among adults receiving palliative care and could be better recognised
Between a quarter and two-thirds of adults admitted to specialist palliative care units experience delirium, or acute confusion. The findings come from a mixed methods project which included a systematic review of the number of people living with delirium. Estimates are mostly applicable to older adults with advanced cancer. The project also included interviews with nurses in Australian palliative care units to look at delirium assessment and use of screening tools. The findings highlighted th...
NIHR Signal ‘Artificial pancreas’ improves glucose control in hospital patients with type 2 diabetes
Closed-loop insulin pumps, which continuously monitor blood glucose and administer insulin accordingly, can improve blood glucose control among patients with type 2 diabetes admitted to hospital for non-critical care. Those using the system spent about six hours longer in the target range, and this could hasten their recovery and reduce staff workload. The number of hospitalised patients with type 2 diabetes is increasing. Glucose control often worsens during illness. Closed-loop pumps have bee...
NIHR Signal MRI scan does not help to find the cause of pelvic pain in women
MRI scans are not sufficiently accurate to find the cause of chronic pelvic pain in women and should not replace laparoscopy (keyhole surgery), which can be used for diagnosis and often treatment. MRI only correctly ruled out a gynaecological condition in half of women judged to have no obvious cause and missed half of women who did have a treatable gynaecological condition. Pinpointing the origin of chronic pelvic pain is often difficult due to the number of possible causes. If initial tests a...
NIHR Signal Reminders help GPs to find and manage inherited cholesterol disorders
GPs and practice nurses assess more adults with inherited raised cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolaemia) when prompted by reminders. More patients have repeat cholesterol tests and assessments for heart disease, in line with NICE guidelines. This NIHR-funded study used electronic health records from six GP practices to identify patients with total cholesterol greater than 7.5mmol/l. Reminder messages appeared when their records were opened during consultations and prompted GPs to carry out...
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