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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 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 Prolonging anticoagulant treatment after abdominal cancer surgery reduces clot risk
People who have low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) for between two to four weeks after abdominal or pelvic surgery, especially for cancer, have fewer blood clots in their large veins or lungs. In this review of seven trials, five per cent of people receiving extended treatment experienced a clot compared with 13% who received LMWH only while in hospital. There was no difference in bleeding complications. The optimal duration of treatment following abdominal surgery is uncertain, balancing blee...
NIHR Signal A high omega-6 fatty acid diet is unlikely to prevent cardiovascular disease or deaths
Diets or supplements that aim to increase omega-6 fatty acids have no clear effect on the risk of cardiovascular events like heart attacks or stroke, overall deaths or deaths from cardiovascular disease. Omega-6 fatty acids are poly-unsaturated oils largely derived from seeds and nuts such as sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. The results of this Cochrane review can be looked at alongside another recent Cochrane review, which found no benefits of fish oil in omega-...
NIHR Signal Antidepressants do not help treat depression in people living with dementia
Antidepressants do not reduce symptoms of depression in people with dementia compared with placebo (dummy pills). Measured 6 to 13 weeks after starting the treatment, there is little or no difference in participants’ symptoms, but an increased chance of unwanted side effects. The review did not identify enough data to determine if antidepressants have an effect in the longer-term. This Cochrane review included randomised controlled trials of any antidepressant drugs compared to placebo. P...
NIHR Signal Pelvic floor muscle training can improve symptoms of urinary incontinence
Two-thirds of women with any type of urinary incontinence who have pelvic floor muscle training see improvement or cure compared with only a third of women who receive no treatment or inactive treatments. It is even more effective for women with stress incontinence, with three-quarters of women reporting improvement or resolution of symptoms, such as episodes of leakage. This systematic review included 31 trials and 1,817 women with any type of incontinence; stress, urgency or mixed urinary inc...
NIHR Signal Robot-assisted arm training after stroke helps people regain some strength and independence
People who have electromechanical or robot-assisted arm rehabilitation after stroke have better arm function and strength as well as finding it easier to complete activities of daily living. Although moderate, the improvements suggest it may be worth considering these interventions as an adjunct to usual therapy. Many people have impaired arm function after a stroke and rehabilitation is often required. Robot-assisted arm training uses devices to support therapeutic movements. Feedback, given b...
NIHR Signal Supervised exercise sessions increase physical activity and fitness of cancer survivors
Aerobic exercise and resistance sessions that include supervision help people living with cancer to meet guideline physical activity levels. Common behaviour change techniques that were shown to increase physical activity are goal setting, graded tasks (e.g. increasing exercise duration or intensity over time), and instruction on how to perform particular exercises. This review update looked at the most effective ways to increase and sustain physical activity for 1,372 sedentary adults living w...
NIHR Signal Steroids rapidly reduce children’s croup symptoms and shorten hospital stays
Corticosteroids reduce symptoms of croup in children within two hours and continue to do so for at least 24 hours. They also cut the amount of time children spend in hospital by 15 hours and reduce return visits or readmissions from about 20% to 10%. This Cochrane review assessed the effectiveness of corticosteroids such as dexamethasone and budesonide compared with placebo. It updates a previous review which concluded that corticosteroids reduce symptoms of croup at six hours. The review also...
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