Posted on 18 July 2011
The five-year programme grant from the National Institute for Health Research will allow researchers to gain a better understanding of problematic surgical wounds and the impact these have on patients’ lives.
In compiling the funding application we worked closely with patients and their stories helped shape the research
Professor Nicky Cullum
Wounds from surgical operations are common and most heal in a straightforward way when the edges of the incision are sutured, stapled or glued. However, some surgical wounds heal by ‘secondary intention’ where the wound is either left open or breaks down after surgery and heals ‘from the bottom up’.
These wounds can be very severe and have a large impact on patients and the NHS. Some can take months to heal and may become infected, resulting in long hospital stays and further operations.
The aim of the research, which will be led by Professor Ian Chetter from the Hull York Medical School and Professor Nicky Cullum from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences, will be to develop a better understanding of the nature, extent, costs, impact and outcomes of surgical wounds healing by secondary intention.
The multidisciplinary team, which includes NHS staff and patients and researchers from the University of York’s Department of Health Sciences and Centre for Health Economics and the University of Bristol, will also look at which treatments are effective and which further research would be of greatest value.
Professor Nicky Cullum said: “Rough estimates suggest that approximately a third of surgical wounds may end up healing by secondary intention, but we know very little about what happens to patients or which treatments are effective.
“In compiling the funding application we worked closely with patients and their stories helped shape the research. We were particularly struck by the huge impact complicated surgical wounds can have on patients’ lives and how patients may feel let down and isolated as a consequence.”