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The correlation between, subepidermal moisture measurement, epidermal hydration, temperature, pain, ultrasound and the pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1α and Total protein in the early detection of pressure ulcers


RCSI StAR International PhD Programme Research Projects

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Prof Z Moore , Dr D Patton Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Pressure ulcers (PU), are localised areas of tissue damage arising due to excess pressure and shearing forces, ranging in severity from superficial tissue damage, to full-scale tissue destruction. PUs are common, costly and affect health and social gain. Further, PU’s have a particularly negatively on the individual, thus early detection and prevention of these wounds is essential. Sub-epidermal moisture (SEM) is a biophysical marker and is a product of the leak of plasma after the inflammation process increases local vasculature permeability. When tissue damage progresses to a greater number of cells, the inflammation markers increase with the resultant outcome that SEM which started as microscopic oedema grows to a macroscopic scale and becomes detectable on imaging examinations and ultimately with the naked eye.

We have undertaken a large number of studies related to SEM and early PU development, and results have shown very exciting results. All individuals who developed a visual PUs always had a preceding
abnormal SEM measure. Further, the mean time to PU detection was 6 days earlier (SD: 2 days) using SEM, versus VSA. Currently, although SEM measurement has been shown to have the ability to detect PUs early, this diagnostic modality is still unable to accurately determine the extent of underlying tissue damage.

Further, the clinical relevance of abnormal SEM measures without evidence of a visual PU needs further exploration. This study will investigate the relationship between subepidermal moisture measurement, epidermal hydration, temperature, pain, ultrasound and the pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1α and Total protein, in the early detection of pressure ulcers. A model representing these relationships does not exist currently but will be developed by the scholar over the duration of this project.
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