Investment in North East healthcare could help thousands at risk of blood clots

Specialists have been given a cash boost to help reduce the risk of blood clot complications after surgery in orthopaedic patients

Prof Amar Rangan, a consultant in orthopaedics
Prof Amar Rangan, a consultant in orthopaedics

Medical experts have been given a cash boost in their bid to help reduce the risk of potentially fatal blood clots after surgery.

The £120,000 grant will fund research and could help save the lives of people undergoing surgical procedures such as knee and hip replacements in thr future.

And it will also create six new jobs in the region.

The funding was awarded to a joint study led by the region’s Hart Biologicals Ltd and clinicians at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Orthopaedic surgical procedures such as repairs to a hip fracture and hip and knee replacements carry a risk of causing a dangerous condition called venous thromboembolism (VTE).

In VTE, blood clots can form within the vein, which is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Sometimes they break off and cause serious complications including pulmonary embolism, which is the cause of death in one in 10 patients who die in hospital, many following surgery.

The grant is helping specialists in the North East work to reduce the risk to patients.

It is expected that the investment will create around six new jobs and lead to more opportunities for high level research with North East NHS Trusts and the region’s leading universities.

Prof Amar Rangan, a consultant in orthopaedics, is heading the research which will focus on a testing system by studying the blood from patients, using a relatively new technique called rotating thrombo-elastometry (ROTEM).

Prof Rangan said: “The study aims to assess if ROTEM can be used as a predictor of increased tendency of a person’s blood to clot, and therefore VTE, in patients who would not be classed as ‘at risk’ using conventional assessment.

“The ability to grade the risk and monitor effectiveness of intervention would increase health outcomes for patients at risk of VTE and also decrease long-term morbidity while also offering significant savings to the NHS through better patient management.”

Government research revealed that every year in England an estimated 25,000 deaths occur as a result of hospital-acquired VTE. The number of deaths due to the condition is more than the combined total of deaths from breast cancer, AIDS and traffic accidents, and more than 25 times the number who die from MRSA.

The grant, awarded by the Academic Health Science Network for North East and North Cumbria (AHSN NENC), will be used to support developmental work on products which help reduce the risk of blood clots following orthopaedic surgery.

Alby Pattison, managing director at Hart Biologicals Ltd, said: “We will test blood samples from patients undergoing elective hip and knee replacements and from patients undergoing hip fracture surgery at various time points pre and post-surgery on ROTEM to see if there are any significant changes in the blood coagulation and platelet function that could correlate with a higher incidence, or risk, of VTE.

“The funding from AHSN for North East and North Cumbria will enable us to gain further knowledge and understanding of blood clotting in patients who have had operations and lead to further reduction of death and long term effects from VTE and Hart Biologicals will provide further matched funding worth £56,032.40 for ROTEM instrumentation and scientific support.”

AHSN NENC has invested more than £3m to support 45 projects selected to improve health outcomes for patients and to support North East businesses involved in health technologies to create jobs and wealth in the region.

Dr Seamus O’Neill, chief executive officer, said: “We are delighted to provide this support to Hart Biologicals and Prof Rangan. The NHS has a tremendous capacity to work with companies to create and develop new products.”

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