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The University of Southampton
Medical Devices and Vulnerable Skin Network

Paediatric Healthcare Technologies Theme Award to target Medical Devices

Published: 9 February 2016
Respiratory mask
Neonatal respiratory mask

The NIHR has awarded funding to our partner Wound Prevention and Treatment HTC to conduct paediatric research within the Medical Devices and Vulnerable Skin Network (MDVSN). This project is in collaboration with Professor Howard Clark at the University of Southampton Hospitals Trust.

The research involves the design of respiratory medical devices to enable effective drug delivery and minimise traumatic damage to vulnerable neonatal tissues. The research is divided into two phases as indicated in Figure 1.

The first phase will target the development of drug delivery devices involving novel surfactants for pre-term infants. Currently this surfactant delivery depends on intra-tracheal instillation with associated complications of intubation and ventilation including oesophageal and tracheal injury, baro trauma and neonatal chronic lung disease. However, intubation and ventilation could be replaced by minimally invasive devices to deliver surfactant therapy.

Phase 2 will focus on the evaluation of CPAP mask designs, which represent a leading cause of skin damage in neonates and paediatric patients admitted to intensive care. The aim of the work is to target medical devices, which have been shown to be a potential cause of iatrogenic injuries in paediatric patients. This will be achieved within a multidisciplinary research team, focused on the development of safe and effective drug delivery, while maintaining high quality care to a paediatric population.

The aims of the research are to:

  • Provide a template of design features, including material properties that minimise the risk of damage to fragile skin while maintaining critical functions of the medical devices.
  • Provide an environment in which basic/applied science and technology-knowledge can be translated into novel designs of medical devices for safe interaction with vulnerable skin with committed engagement of clinical colleagues and industrial partners.
  • Work with key device manufacturers to establish novel non-invasive delivery systems for surfactant therapy.

Success will improve the quality of life of device users, by reducing both personal discomfort and the incidence of device-related injuries that can cause lifelong scarring and disfigurement.

Figure 1. Schematic of Research Agenda
Figure 1. Schematic of Research Agenda

Notes for editors


Medical Devices and Vulnerable Skin Network (MDVSN): Optimising safety in design

The MDVSN represents an EPSRC-NIHR HTC funded partnership led by the University of Southampton (Bader and Worsley) and Kings College London (Grocott). It is supported by the NIHR Healthcare Technology Co-operatives (HTCs) associated with Devices for Dignity (D4D) and Wound Prevention & Treatment and named academic and industrial collaborators. The Network's strategic aims are to introduce cutting-edge technologies and scientific understanding in order to reduce the incidence of mechanical-induced damage of vulnerable skin caused by interventional medical devices in various clinical settings





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