New project to reduce risk of surgical infection

A surgeon from The University of Western Australia is leading a project that will assess the effectiveness of advanced dressings in healing high-risk surgical wounds.

Professor Toby Richards, Michael Lawrence Brown Chair of Surgery at UWA and surgeon at Fiona Stanley Hospital, was awarded funding in the latest round of the Medical and Health Research Infrastructure Fund.

The grant will support his work in leading the WA arm of SUNRISE, an international clinical trial that will determine whether patients whose incisions are dressed with negative-pressure bandages – which use a suction device to draw fluid away from the wound – experience lower rates of infection than those whose wounds are dressed with conventional bandages.

Infection is one of the most common complications of emergency surgery, occurring in 20 to 30 per cent of cases and putting patients at increased risk of potentially devastating consequences.

In what is thought to be a first for WA, the project is also giving university medical students and junior doctors the opportunity to be part of an international randomised controlled trial.

Local hospitals participating in SUNRISE are Fiona Stanley, Sir Charles Gairdner, Joondalup Health Campus and St John of God Subiaco.

Professor Richards is among 120 local researchers sharing in $6.5 million of State Government research funding.

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