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Clinical trial investigating new use for old drug

The anaesthetics team Dr Rachel Bourke, Danielle Miller, and Dr Andrew Miller with clinical trial patient Karen Huntley.

Anaesthetic doctors are offering patients the opportunity to participate in a world class clinical trial to test a medication that could prevent post-surgery infections in people who have undergone major abdominal surgery.

Wound infections after surgery are serious and can be life-threatening - they can delay hospital discharge by days or weeks and add substantial costs to the healthcare system.

Deputy Director of Anaesthetics Dr Andrew Miller said reducing surgical infections was an important issue.

“There are at least 200,000 healthcare-associated infections reported in Australian hospital’s each year, occupying two million bed days and costing $1billion per year,” he said.

“Infected patients are twice as likely to need admission to critical care and twice as likely to die. Surgical site infections remain one of the most serious and expensive postoperative complications. That’s why this trial is so important.”

The trial is investigating tranexamic acid, a drug known to reduce bleeding in cardiac surgery, to see if it has immune-protective effects that could prevent infections in all types of surgery.

The five-year TRIGS Trial (Tranexamic acid to reduce infection after gastrointestinal surgery) will enroll 3300 people having major abdominal surgery and look at outcomes, including postoperative infections, the need for blood transfusion, and speed of recovery after surgery.

“Although it’s an old medicine, the trial is investigating tranexamic acid in a new setting – that could reduce the risk of infections,” Dr Miller said.

“This is everyday medicine, using a basic science approach to a large-scale, international clinical trial.

“This study could have real benefits for our patients. Without research trials like this, we wouldn’t be able to continue to improve patient outcomes, our overall goal.”
Dr Miller said it was important to be involved in research.

“Engaging with world class clinical trials is important as we are a university hospital. Running clinical trials and engaging with research in general, promotes a culture of evidence-based best practice and role models this to our anaesthetic trainees.”

The TRIGS principal trial investigator, Professor Paul Myles from the Alfred Hospital and Monash University, Victoria, made the multi-site trial possible by securing a $5.19 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

The anesthetics department is also participating in the VAPOR-C trials and collaborates with Gold Coast Health’s Clinical Trial Service and ANZCA Clinical Trials Network (CTN).

Last updated 26 May 2021