Anti-bacterial collar to help mend broken bones

15 Feb 2011 00:00:00.000

PA 47/11

Orthopaedic experts at The University of Nottingham are hoping to reduce the rate of infections that often occur in the pinning of broken bones by developing a special collar to counter dangerous microbes.

Using technology developed by Dr Roger Bayston in the School of Clinical Sciences, PhD student and nursing specialist Jennie Walker has been awarded an allied health professional training fellowship of almost £160,000 from Arthritis Research UK to devise an anti-microbial collar to prevent bacterial infections associated with broken bones.

Pins used to mend broken bones can often lead to infection. Up to 40 per cent of patients being treated in this way develop infections, which can in the worst cases, lead to osteomylitis (bone infection) and septicaemia.

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Dr Bayston’s anti-microbial catheter, used in the treatment of hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and severe kidney failure has already benefitted almost half a million patients worldwide, reducing infection rates by between 60 to 85 per cent.

Dr Bayston, who is based in the Division of Orthopaedic and Accident Surgery and specialises in research into surgical infections said: “We plan to use this same technology to design and test an antibiotic-impregnated collar which can be fitted to the skin surface for use in pinning broken bones.”

Serious fractures are often treated by inserting metal pins through the skin into the bone and stabilised by a metal frame.

He added: “The idea is to develop a cheap and user-friendly device impregnated with a substance that will kill bacteria before it can work its way down the pin and get into the wound, and can be taken off the patient, washed and replaced.”

Ms Walker, who is also employed by the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust to teach 5th year medical students, will carry out a pilot study to determine the collar’s usefulness in patients at the Queens Medical Centre, under the supervision of Dr Bayston, and Brigitte Scammell, Professor of Orthopaedic Sciences and Head of Division of Orthopaedic and Accident Surgery in the School of Clinical Sciences.

Ms Walker said: “We need to carry out further research to perfect the collar. As the antimicrobial agents that we will use are already in clinical use we don’t expect to encounter any problem with side-effects.”

The researchers also want to find out which bacteria are most commonly associated with pin site infections and whether there are some patient groups who are at particularly high risk of infection. They believe the device could also reduce NHS costs by avoiding the complications associated with infections.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as “the nearest Britain has to a truly global university”, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

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More information is available from Dr Roger Bayston on +44 (0)115 823 1115,

Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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