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The University of Southampton

Research Group: Perioperative and Critical Care

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Improving the survival, recovery, and quality of life of those experiencing surgery or critical illness.

There are around five million surgical operations performed each year in the UK and the critical care units in our hospitals admit 420,000 patients each year. This demand has been significantly increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic creating a backlog of more than 5.7 million operations.

Faculty of Medicine research aims to individualise care and develop shared decision making to improve survival, recovery, and quality of life for those experiencing surgery or critical illness.

Our work is recognised internationally for its multi-disciplinary and translational approach. The majority of our perioperative and critical care researchers work within the NIHR-funded Southampton Biomedical Research Centre where we have strong links with the University Hospital Southampton for delivery of innovative bench-to-bedside research.




Our researchers are world-leaders in the field of ‘prehabilitation’, which improves physical fitness, diet, and mental health before major surgery.

Our research has shown fitness tests can predict the risks and outcomes from surgery and now, more than two thirds of UK hospitals now use fitness testing before surgery. We have also taken prehabilitation into the community and trained personal trainers to supervise patients exercising in local gyms.

Southampton research was the first to show that chemotherapy reduces fitness and can be linked to poor outcomes after surgery. However, this can be reversed through supervised high-intensity exercise. Our academics have led several national guidelines for prehabilitation in patients with cancer.


Hypoxia research

Hypoxia research

One in five people in the UK will be admitted to intensive care at some point and, of those, 25 to 30 per cent die, with lack of oxygen, or hypoxia, as a major contributory factor.

Southampton research into hypoxia, which took place on Mount Everest, explored how our bodies respond to lower oxygen levels and showed that our tissues switch to a more efficient ways of using oxygen. We have applied this to an intensive care setting and developed better targeted oxygen therapy for patients in critical care.

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