New trial aims to reduce infection and blood clot rates for kids with cancer

A trial aiming to reduce infection and blood clot rates for children with cancer is being led by The University of Queensland across Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast hospitals.

Professor Amanda Ullman from UQ's School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work and Children's Health Queensland said the trial will investigate the effectiveness of a solution to make catheter use safer.

One of the first procedures children being treated for cancer undergo is the insertion of a central line into blood vessels leading to the heart.

This line carries important treatments such as chemotherapy drugs, blood transfusions and antibiotics but it can also lead to infection and blood clots.

These complications can stop treatment, cause stress for the child and their family and result in harm, expense, and even death.

In our trial we're using what's called a lock solution – Tetrasodium EDTA which is a calcium and iron chelator that makes it difficult for blood to clot and bacteria to grow."

Professor Amanda Ullman from UQ's School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work and Children's Health Queensland

More than 250 bloodstream infections, 70 deep vein thromboses and 300 treatment disruptions are recorded each year in Australia related to central venous access devices in children undergoing cancer treatment.

"This lock solution was developed and safety tested in Canada but this is the first time it has been trialled to prevent complications associated with the treatment of cancer, worldwide," Professor Ullman said.

"We're hoping that with the success of our trial the lock solution could be used for everyone with cancer and for children with other complex health conditions to reduce complications and health care costs.

"This solution could potentially transform cancer care, infectious disease, and vascular access practice nationally and internationally."

The trial is partly funded by Cancer Council Queensland and begins at the Queensland Children's, the Sunshine Coast University and Gold Coast University hospitals, before expanding to the Sydney Children's, Royal Children's Melbourne, Monash Children's, and Starship Children's hospitals in the next few months.

Professor Ullman is partnering with the Australian and New Zealand Children's Oncology and Haematology Group in this and other trials, allowing all children in Australia and New Zealand undergoing treatment for cancer to access cutting-edge technologies.

Professor Ullman's work is also supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Investigator Grant of $1.5 million.

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