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NIHR Signal Age of stored blood used for transfusions in critically ill children doesn’t affect outcomes
Using more recently-collected red blood cells for transfusions does not reduce organ dysfunction, infection or risk of death in critically ill children, compared with blood that has been stored for longer. This large, international trial included more than 1,500 children in paediatric intensive care units. The study provides robust evidence to support the continued practice of using the oldest compatible red blood cells within their use-by date. This is done to minimise the amount of donated b...
NIHR Signal Combined drug therapy for at least 36 weeks reduces relapse after psychotic depression
Patients with psychotic depression who achieve remission benefit from continuing the antipsychotic drug olanzapine, alongside the antidepressant sertraline for at least a further four months, a North American trial has found. Patients who reduced and stopped olanzapine when their condition stabilised were more than twice as likely to relapse when compared with those who continued combined drug therapy. The majority of relapses occurred within two months of withdrawing olanzapine. This was a ra...
NIHR Signal Herpes zoster vaccine reduces chances of shingles after stem cell transplants
A non-live vaccine against herpes zoster provides good, though partial protection for adults undergoing autologous (using the patient’s own) stem cell transplant for treatment of blood cancers. These people cannot use the usual live vaccine, because of their suppressed immune system. An industry-funded trial of the vaccine involved 1,846 patients from 28 countries, including the UK. Two doses of the vaccine resulted in a 68% reduction in cases of shingles over 21 months of follow-up. Shin...
NIHR Signal Delaying pushing in labour has no benefit for women with an epidural and/or spinal for pain relief
For women having their first baby with an epidural and/or spinal anaesthetic for pain-relief, the timing of pushing after full dilatation of the cervix does not affect the numbers that achieve normal vaginal delivery. The best management for the second stage of labour is still debated. In the UK epidurals are by far the most widely used regional anaesthetic technique for pain relief in labour. In this large trial, women either pushed immediately or delayed pushing by waiting for 60 minutes. Wo...
NIHR Signal Training for clinical competence and resilience reduced job strain among intensive care nurses in France
A five-day educational course showed potential to reduce work-based stress and burnout among nurses working in intensive care units in France. The study conducted in multiple adult intensive care units aimed to identify the effects of an intensive, continuing medical education program on occupational stress. The course focussed on nursing theory, role-play and debriefing sessions. Six months after attending the programme, intensive care unit nurses showed reduced levels of job strain compared t...
NIHR Signal Decontamination of the mouth or digestive tract was not linked to reductions in drug-resistant bloodstream infections in the intensive care unit
Decontamination strategies to remove potentially harmful bacteria from the mouth, throat and gut of critically ill patients don’t reduce the risk of intensive care unit-acquired bloodstream infections or deaths from bacteria that were resistant to antibiotics. The study was carried out in 13 intensive care units across Europe, including the UK, with moderate to high levels of antibiotic resistance (extended resistance in more than 5% of all bloodstream infections). This fills an important ...
NIHR Signal Early cooling provides no benefit following traumatic brain injury
Deliberate cooling (prophylactic hypothermia) in the early management of traumatic brain injury does not improve neurological outcomes at six months. Inducing hypothermia may also increase the risk of pneumonia. Hypothermia (33-35oC) is sometimes induced to try and limit brain damage in people with severe head injuries. However, evidence for its safety and effectiveness has been mixed. A 2015 trial (Eurotherm 3235) found that therapeutic hypothermia, for adults with raised intracranial pressur...
NIHR Signal Antibiotics may be an alternative first-line treatment for uncomplicated appendicitis
Appendicectomy surgery could potentially be avoided for around 60% of adults with uncomplicated appendicitis if they receive antibiotics first. Adults in Finland with appendicitis were randomised to have appendicectomy or a course of antibiotics. In 6 out of 10 the appendicitis settled and did not return over the five years they were followed. Of those who did go on to need surgery most did so in the first year. If the findings from the study could be applied to the UK, it is estimated that up...
NIHR Signal Adding low dose theophylline to inhaled corticosteroids does not reduce COPD exacerbations
Taking low-dose theophylline tablets in addition to inhaled corticosteroids did not significantly reduce chronic obstructive pulmonary disease flare-ups (exacerbations). This NIHR funded study found that people taking the combination and those taking an inhaled steroid had the same number of exacerbations - just over two per year. People who experience frequent exacerbations are often prescribed steroid inhalers to reduce inflammation of the airways. Theophylline also helps open up the airways,...
NIHR Signal Thyroid hormone treatment does not help adults with mildly abnormal thyroid tests
There appears to be no benefit from treating adults with subclinical hypothyroidism. Treatment has no effect on quality of life or symptoms compared with placebo or no treatment. Thyroid function tests are commonly performed in general practice for patients who present with a range of symptoms, including fatigue or tiredness. When subclinical hypothyroidism is detected, there is uncertainty whether treatment is worthwhile or how to best monitor success. A recent large study found that hormone l...
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