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  5. Research aims to identify risk of infection after a caesarean section

Research aims to identify risk of infection after a caesarean section

Thursday 25 August 2016

Technology that can quickly identify the risk of infection in women who have given birth by caesarean section, is being developed by Sheffield Hallam University.

Women who have a high body mass index (BMI) are most at risk of developing an infection after a caesarean section, which presents problems for new mothers. But, scientists at Sheffield Hallam's Centre for Health and Social Care Research believe thermal images taken around the area of the wound could detect signs of potential infection just 48 hours after surgery.

Using a thermal-imaging camera, clinicians will be able to see the different characteristics that make up an infected and non-infected wound and could determine whether a patient is at risk of developing a wound infection after they are discharged from hospital.

The technique could also be applied to patients undergoing other types of surgery and it is hoped that the study will eventually contribute towards a general reduction in antibiotic prescribing.

A team of scientists, clinicians, engineers and computer scientists from Sheffield Hallam, University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals are currently developing the technology in a bid to attract funding to trial the technique further on women who have had a caesarean section.

The research won the best clinical research award at the Journal of Wound Care International Awards held in London at the weekend, and was runner-up in the Innovation Award category.

Leading the study, Charmaine Childs, professor of clinical science at Sheffield Hallam University, said: "Infection in surgical wounds can bring misery and morbid complications to many patients and is the third most frequent healthcare-associated infection, imposing a significant burden on NHS resources.

Anthony Kerr, publishing director of Journal of Wound Care, Professor Charmaine Childs & war veteran and para-cyclist, Terry Byrne who hosted the awards ceremony. 


"Caesarean wound infections usually develop after the woman has been discharged from hospital but by using the thermal imaging technique, clinicians could better monitor patients at the bedside immediately after surgery. This would allow for early detection of the risk of infection before it becomes a problem. The short stays in hospital after the birth of a baby make this technique an important step forward in wound infection surveillance.

"It will also help to identify the patients who are in greatest need of antibiotics and will help rationalise the prescribing of antibiotics to those in most need therefore preventing the overprescribing and sometimes unnecessary use of these precious drugs."

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