Posted: Sat 21st Oct 2023

New pre-eclampsia test to improve maternal care in North Wales

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Saturday, Oct 21st, 2023

A new rapid diagnostic test for pre-eclampsia, a condition which can cause still births, is being pioneered across hospitals in North Wales.

Pre-eclampsia is a life-threatening condition, which, if left untreated, can cause serious complications for both mother and baby, the new test helps to improve diagnosis, prevent maternal complications, reduce still births and prevent pre-term deliveries.

Following positive results in a pilot study held at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, the new rapid placental growth factor test (PLFG) for pregnant women with suspected pre-eclampsia has been rolled out across Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board’s hospitals.

Dr Lynda Verghese, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, and Labour Ward Lead at Wrexham Maelor Hospital, said: “This new point of care test is a fantastic and positive step forward in maternity care.

Crucially the test can be performed in close proximity to the patients on the maternity ward, removing any potential delay and provide much-needed reassurance to both the medical team and the patient, reducing maternal anxiety and allowing mothers to return home safely for outpatient surveillance.

“By using this test we are able to improve the overall patient experience for these women, reducing the impact on their mental health and avoiding the stress of having their lives turned upside down – potentially requiring additional childcare, time out of work, and unexpected costs from travel.”The basic blood and urine tests that are currently used in the UK for assessing the severity of pre-eclampsia lack the sensitivity required to predict the outcome of the patient, so a significant number of pregnant women are admitted to hospital for further observations.

Dr Verghese and Dr Yee Ping Teoh introduced the new in-person PLGF test to supplement decision making. The results can take just 15 minutes allowing doctors to quickly group pregnant women by risk and identify those likely to progress to delivery in 14 days.

A pilot study showed those most at risk with an abnormally low PLGF level could be treated promptly to prevent further complications such as eclampsia, stroke or maternal morbidity. With 68% of women able to be cared for quickly through outpatients alone without being admitted and there were zero stillbirths or pre-term deliveries before 37 weeks.

The project was supported by the Welsh Government’s Innovation Strategy for Wales, and has also been championed by the Bevan Commission as a Bevan Exemplar project at the Senedd with the ambition of rolling it out more widely across the rest of Wales.

The Minister for Health and Social Services, Eluned Morgan said: “This is a hugely exciting time for innovation; this week Welsh Government launched the new Innovation Strategy for Wales which sets out how we will harness innovation to meet Welsh aims and tackle system challenges.

“Over the last decade we have seen a significant development of the health and care innovation here in Wales, with new and exciting examples of clinical practice and technology coming from NHS Wales, our Welsh Universities and the private sector. Through our new Innovation Strategy, I look forward to seeing more and more initiatives such as PLGF testing being rolled out across our hugely committed health and care sector in Wales.”


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