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NIHR Signal Four-drug treatment for HIV offers no benefit over standard three-drug treatment
Quadruple drug therapy for people starting HIV treatment offers no benefit over the currently recommended triple therapy. Antiretroviral (anti-HIV) therapy is highly effective, with almost all treated individuals in the UK surviving as long as non-infected people. The courses now available mean those treated are usually unable to pass on the virus. There are several classes of treatment and individual drugs which can be used in various combinations. The British HIV Association currently recomme...
NIHR Signal Decision support tools can help GPs reduce antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory conditions
A 12% reduction in GP antibiotic prescriptions for respiratory conditions was achieved through the use of electronic decision and training tools. This reduction did not increase the risk of serious infections compared to usual care. The low-cost intervention in this large NIHR-funded trial included a short training webinar for GPs and feedback on their practice’s prescribing rates. The decision support tool gave prompt access to NICE prescribing guidelines and printable patient informatio...
NIHR Signal Partial knee replacements have some short-term advantages compared to total knee replacements
Replacing one side of the knee, unicompartmental knee replacement, may result in shorter hospital stays, fewer short-term complications, faster recovery and better knee function than total knee replacements. However, about 8% need revision by five years - about two to three times the rate with total knee replacements. People with pain and immobility from osteoarthritis that cannot be controlled by other treatments may be referred for knee surgery. If the damage is only to one side of the knee, ...
NIHR Signal Keyhole surgery may be better than physiotherapy for hip impingement
Adults with painful restriction of movement of their hip had greater improvements in their symptoms after arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) than those who had physiotherapy. This NIHR-funded study included 222 people with hip pain and limited movement due to femoro-acetabular (hip) impingement but without a diagnosis of osteoarthritis. Their average age was 36 years. Half of the people who had surgery had significant benefit compared with a third of those having physiotherapy. NICE has recommended...
NIHR Signal Torn Achilles tendons have similar outcomes if treated with or without surgery
Outcomes for ruptured Achilles tendons appear similar irrespective of the choice of intervention. This systematic review and meta-analysis found that while the risk of re-rupture with corrective surgery was small at 2.3%, with conservative management (immobilisation in a cast), the rate was only 3.9%. The complication rate at 4.9% was three times higher in those who had surgery. Nearly all of the included studies were observational in this review, and no information was provided on the severit...
NIHR Signal Intravenous oxytocin reduces severe bleeding after vaginal delivery
Routine oxytocin injected directly into the bloodstream, rather than into the muscle, after birth results in fewer people suffering severe bleeding (postpartum haemorrhage). The overall rate of postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) or side effects was similar between the groups, but the intravenous group had fewer severe haemorrhages, needed fewer blood transfusions and fewer admissions to high dependency care. Intramuscular route oxytocin is currently recommended in the UK, partly due to concerns about...
NIHR Signal Text messages improve diabetes self-management and blood sugar control
In adults with poorly controlled diabetes, text messages offering advice and support can improve self-management and blood sugar control. This trial included 366 adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes in New Zealand. An automated system delivered individually tailored text messages to participants over a nine-month period to support self-management of blood sugar. The control group received usual care, comparable to that in the UK. The text message group had a small reduction in blood sugar lev...
NIHR Signal Prescribing anti-inflammatories for urine infection reduces antibiotic use but increases complication risk
Urinary tract infection symptoms resolved by three days for 80% of women given antibiotics compared with 54% given anti-inflammatories. Anti-inflammatories reduced antibiotic use, but 5% of women developed more severe infection of the kidneys. Urinary infections are the second most common reason for prescribing antibiotics in general practice, after respiratory infection. As such, this use may be contributing to increasing antibiotic resistance. This Swiss trial provided an important head-to-h...
NIHR Signal Physiotherapy education before major abdominal surgery reduces lung complications
A physiotherapy session before planned abdominal surgery, explaining the importance of breathing exercises and sitting out of bed as soon after surgery as possible, halves the risk of pneumonia. This trial compared the physiotherapy session with usual care which was provided to all 432 participants. This consisted of a leaflet given in the pre-operative outpatient clinic outlining the exercises, and physiotherapy input in the days after surgery. Just seven people would need to receive the addit...
NIHR Signal Direct acting oral anticoagulants likely to be better than warfarin for people taking them for atrial fibrillation
In people with atrial fibrillation needing anticoagulant treatment, deaths were fewer in those who had direct acting oral anticoagulants compared with warfarin. The picture is less clear for the risk of stroke and complications such as bleeding in the brain or gut. Apixaban had the best efficacy and safety profile and was cost-effective compared with warfarin. This study pooled the data in all trials reporting efficacy, safety and cost of anticoagulant prevention of stroke events in people with...
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