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NHS 'first' as brain surgery is carried out at patients' bedsides

Brain surgeons at Southampton General Hospital are providing life-saving resuscitation, imaging and surgery at patients' bedsides. They're the first in Europe to do so.

Clinicians on the neurointensive care unit (NICU) at Southampton General Hospital have called the development a "major milestone" in the treatment of critically ill and injured patients that could transform clinical practice.

Southampton General Hospital Credit: ITV Meridian

It has been made possible through the use of a £150,000 portable CT scanner - donated by fundraising group Percy's Pals - which enables doctors to scan patients on the unit rather than transport them across hospital to an imaging suite.

Neurosurgeons can then perform an emergency image-guided procedure, known as an external ventricular drain, at the same time to release fluid from the brain and reduce pressure on the skull.

Previously, patients had to be transferred to a scanner by three members of staff - a consultant, medical technician and nurse - for imaging, then taken to theatre if they required a ventricular drain or other emergency surgery.

"Timing is everything when it comes to neurological conditions and any deterioration needs to be diagnosed as quickly as possible so pressure can be taken off of the brain rapidly to give a patient the best possible chance of a good recovery.

"The portable CT scanner not only enables instant imaging, it means we no longer have to move critically ill patients away from the safety of the intensive care unit and we can perform emergency procedures at the bedside - it really is a major milestone in neurointensive care treatment."

– Dr Roger Lightfoot, Director of the NICU, Southampton General Hospital


Pancreatic cancer charity CEO explains symptoms of condition with 4% survival rate & calls for more funding

Scientist are hoping to improve research into pancreatic cancer

Last year 1,361 people in the South were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer - among them 691 men and 670 women - just 54 of them have survived.

According to 'Pancreatic Cancer Action', only half of those who contracted the illness even knew it existed before becoming sick. Late diagnosis is often the problem. The charity is hoping to raise awareness and to push for greater funding into research.

ITV Meridian spoke to two women whose lives have been affected by pancreatic cancer and scientists working towards improving research into the condition. ITV Meridian presenter Stacey Poole also interviewed Ali Stunt, the CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action, who explained what the symptoms were - and the aims of her organisation.

Obesity and lack of exercise behind surge in kidney stone complaints

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust Credit: ITV News Meridian

A leading surgeon has warned a “malicious combination" of obesity, poor hydration, high blood pressure and a lack of exercise is behind a surge in cases of kidney stones.

Bhaskar Somani, a consultant urological surgeon at Southampton General Hospital, said admissions for renal stone treatment in England had risen by 20% over the past seven years to more than 90,000, with prevalence up to 50% higher in obese patients.

He said poor diets and lifestyles were “fuelling” the development of the condition, with consumption of too much animal protein and levels of salt and sugar creating the “perfect environment" for stones to form.

“We know diet and lifestyle can be a major cause of stones and, with a year-on-year rise in the number of hospital admissions for renal stones and growing numbers of overweight or obese adults, the potential for the number of cases to soar even higher is huge.

In Southampton specifically, our numbers have gone up by 40% over the past three years and have resulted in the need for us to recruit a specialist stone nurse and registrar to see patients, as well as set-up virtual clinics by phone – so urology and stone services face a very testing future.

The condition, which affects around 10% to 20% of the male population and 3% to 5% of women between the ages of 20 and 60 years, develops when crystals of salt accumulate into stone-like lumps."

– Bhaskar Somani, Consultant Urological Surgeon, Southampton General Hospital

Brain cancer survivor Ashya King returns to UK with his parents

Brain cancer survivor Ashya King has returned to the UK with his parents Credit: Family Handout

Brain cancer survivor Ashya King has returned to the UK with his parents 10 months after they took him out of Southampton General Hospital and sparked an international manhunt.

The five-year-old, who made a "miracle" recovery after receiving proton beam therapy in Prague, said he was "excited" to return home and wished to see his grandmother, according to the Sun.

His parents Brett and Naghmeh King initially said they feared to return because their son could be taken into care but the pair now say they have "no reason to hide".

Mr King, 52, told the paper: "We just have to face up to the situation now. We would like nothing to happen an for us to be able to get on with our lives.

"We shouldn't have to be afraid - and that's why we won't go on living like refugees in a different country for no reason.

"We feel sufficiently assured by Portsmouth City Council that it's all finished. However, we do have a lingering fear that one day we will get a knock on the door."

Doctors make breakthrough in brain injuries study

Doctors in Southampton have developed a brain pressure test that can detect life-threatening head injuries and infections - without the need for surgery or spinal procedures.

The method involves patients wearing headphones with an ear plug linked to a computer, which enables doctors to measure fluid pressure in the skull.

The device known as the cerebral and cochlear fluid pressure (CCFP) analyser is being used to study healthy volunteers at Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire.

"We know that high pressure inside the skull resulting from injuries and infections can be fatal, so it is essential it is detected as early as possible to avoid exacerbating symptoms and ensure treatment can begin promptly.

"Current methods for testing ICP (intracranial pressure) require procedures to be carried out under sedation or anaesthetic, which means they are limited to the most severe cases and those with less obvious initial symptoms often go undetected until their symptoms have worsened.

"However, as our CCFP (cerebral and cochlear fluid pressure) device does not require a patient to do anything other than wear a set of headphones with an ear plug, it has the potential to provide rapid, accurate and safe assessments to patients in much larger numbers than is currently possible."

– Dr Robert Marchbanks, consultant clinical scientist
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