NNUH joins new neonatal research study
A research study to help improve care for poorly babies has begun at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
The hospital has become the first in the East of England to sign-up to the NeoCLEAR trial, which aims to improve the treatment of babies with suspected infections or neurological conditions.
The first patients at the NNUH have taken part in the study – following consent from their parents – which is investigating the best techniques to carry out a successful lumbar puncture procedure.
A lumbar puncture is performed by doctors to diagnose meningitis or another neurological condition, and sometimes as treatment for certain neurological problems. The procedure involves taking a small amount of fluid from the spine through a needle in the lower back and the main aim of the clinical trial is to find out which technique produces the clearest sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the fewest possible number of attempts.
The University of Oxford, which is coordinating the randomised trial, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), aims to involve more than 1,000 babies on the study.
Dr Raducu Clapuci, joint Principal Investigator for the study at the NNUH, said the trial will establish which method has the least amount of blood contamination. This could reduce the need for repeat procedures and help with more accurate test results and diagnoses and help reduce stress for the babies and their parents.
He said: “One of the debates we frequently have is that when we do a lumbar puncture the tip of the needle has to reach a space which is very close to a vein and sometimes blood can get into the CSF. This can make it difficult to get a clear interpretation of the result.
This can sometimes mean a baby is on a longer course of antibiotics than necessary and can cause extra anxiety for parents.
Hopefully this trial will give clearer results on what method is best. Parents can feel quite anxious about it, but when the results of the study will be available, that should change our practice for the better way of performing a lumbar puncture.”