Published on: 9 September 2020

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s reputation as a research leader has been further enhanced with the publication of the results of a trial which could reduce the need for women to have surgery following a miscarriage.

The Trust recruited the largest number of patients in the UK - 108 - and when the results were published in The Lancet, Janet Scollen, Lead Research Nurse for the ‘MifeMiso’ trial, was singled out for her ‘outstanding contribution’ to recruitment to the trial. Two of the Trust’s Consultant Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Kim Hinshaw and Amna Ahmed, were among the co-authors of the research.

The trial, involving over 700 women in total, investigated whether treatment with the drug misoprostol or a combination of drug treatments - mifepristone plus misoprostol two days later - was best for the medical management of missed miscarriage. (A ‘missed miscarriage’ is diagnosed when a non-viable pregnancy is identified on an ultrasound scan during the first 14 weeks, often without the woman experiencing common miscarriage symptoms.)

The results showed that the combination of drug treatments was the most effective option. Treatment with mifepristone two days before misoprostol led to the miscarriage resolving more quickly than treatment with misoprostol alone. The combined treatment also reduced the need for surgery following medical management. Work is now underway to update clinical guidelines in light of this evidence.

Mr Hinshaw said: “Miscarriage is common, affecting one in five pregnancies. It can cause physical harm, such as excessive bleeding and infection, and substantial psychological harm, including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Thankfully, care of women with early pregnancy loss is improving all the time and this latest research is a very positive development. Janet and the rest of our research team and our Early Pregnancy Assessment Unit deserve enormous credit for a fantastic job in recruiting so many patients and we have to thank all the women who took part.”

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s reputation as an award-winning world leader in many fields of research is constantly growing.

The Maternity Unit at Sunderland Royal Hospital was the top recruiting centre nationally for the ANODE study investigating the use of antibiotics to prevent infections in mothers following forceps or vacuum deliveries. The research paper, published in the British Medical Journal, was named this summer as ‘Research Paper of the Year’ in The BMJ Awards 2020.

In recent months, the Trust has enrolled patients in several COVID-19 studies to identify treatments and assess outcomes. These include:

  • the RECOVERY trial involving patients in hospital with suspected and confirmed COVID-19, which aims to identify treatments that may help their recovery
  • REMAP-CAP, an international trial focusing on critically ill patients with community-acquired pneumonia, to which COVID-19 specific elements were added 

The Trust is also actively exploring being involved in the COVID-19 vaccine trials that are being implemented in the region.