Rory Donnelly, clinical research director of Copper Clothing, examines copper’s potential for wound dressings after a randomised study showed they created a significant reduction in postpartum surgical site infection following a caesarean section.
Wound and surgical site infections (SSI) pose a significant problem in healthcare today. In fact, according to NICE, SSIs have been shown to account for up to 16% of all healthcare-associated infections in the UK.
Not only do they threaten the lives of patients, they also increase the threat of antibiotic resistance. This alone is expected to kill more people than cancer by 2050. That equates to over 10 million people a year worldwide. It’s therefore clear we need to find new and innovative ways of reducing infections in hospitals across the globe.
Copper can be the solution. The material has been around for millennia. As early as 2600-2200 BC, the Egyptians used green copper rust for the treatment of chest wounds and to sterilise drinking water. But its use in the modern medical space is yet to be fully realised.
So how exactly can copper be applied in a clinical setting to prevent infection?
Research into copper infused medical devices.
In 2012, Copper Clothing made a breakthrough when Professor Bill Keevil, University of Southampton, carried out in-vitro testing on our copper and bamboo fabric, highlighting that the copper ions kill MRSA on contact. The initial kill rate for the first 30-40 minutes of contact on the copper nylon fabric was actually faster than 100% pure copper metal.
This year, a team of experts from NHS Croydon University Hospital conducted a study in partnership with our team at Copper Clothing. The double blind randomised controlled trial involved 324 women. 159 were randomised to the study group and 165 to the control group. The studies aim was to investigate the effect of copper impregnated wound dressings on the surgical site infection (SSI) rate following caesarean section (CS).
The findings were published in the European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Reproductive Biology. It found that copper caesarean wound dressings not only demonstrated a significant 38.7% reduction of overall Surgical Site Infection (SSI) rate, but also a significant 80.3% reduction of organ/space SSI.
This is outstanding. It is the first study of its kind that demonstrates a significant reduction in SSI rates following caesarean section with the use of copper impregnated wound dressings.