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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 September, 2004, 10:43 GMT 11:43 UK
Blood-loss test aids op recovery
Image of an operation
The device improved recovery time
A simple system that checks how much blood a patient loses during surgery speeds recovery, NHS trials show.

Surgical teams using the device were better able to predict how much fluid to give the patient, thereby preventing post-op complications.

An anaesthetist from Worthing Hospital in West Sussex told an Association of Anaesthetists meeting in Cardiff how the CardioQ system had been a success.

The findings will appear in the journal Anaesthesia.

"Better for patients"

The system comprises an ultrasound probe that is inserted into the gullet in a similar way to scopes used to look at the inside of the stomach.

image of cardio Q
The probe sits within the gullet

Once inside the gullet the probe measures waves of ultrasound bounced off blood cells flowing through the body's main artery - the aorta.

This gives the doctors doing the operation an idea of how much blood is being pumped around the patient's body by the heart, how much blood the patient has lost and how much fluid needs to be replaced.

Giving the right amounts of fluid is essential to avoid complications and long stays in hospital after the operation.

Anaesthetist Dr Howard Wakeling, who lead a government-funded trial of the device at Worthing Hospital, said it enabled patients to go home from hospital sooner and reduced the risk of post-op complications compared with usual care.

His team tested the device in 128 patients undergoing major surgery for bowel cancer.

"It's been better for patients. They were eating earlier, they were opening their bowels earlier and they felt generally better.

"We got the patients out of the hospital a day and a half earlier, which is really important. They do not want to be in hospital and they don't want to feel grotty."

He said it also meant the beds that had been freed up could be used to treat more patients.

Dr Wakeling said the device was so simple that any hospital anaesthetic department should be able to use it, not just specialist hospitals.

Savings

Doctors at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, Kent, who have also tested the device also found it reduced hospital stay.

Chief executive of the Medway Maritime NHS Trust, Andy Horne, said the device had cut average length of hospital stay by three days, equating to a saving of 800 per patient.

"We have used the CardioQ in around 200 operations in the last four months and have had very good results.

"In addition to improving patient experience...the saving of about 1 million a year is the equivalent of the running costs of a ward for a year," he said.


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