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Overview - Anaesthetics Research

The Women’s Department of Anaesthesia has a long history of research, teaching, education and innovation.

Founded in 1951 by Dr Kevin McCaul, it was the first obstetric anaesthesia department in Australia. The department has an active research program concentrating on world first research in the area of heart function in pregnant women with preeclampsia using transthoracic echocardiography (TTE). The ROSE scan – the Rapid Obstetric Screening Scan – has been developed to rapidly assess a sick pregnant woman’s heart function to assist with diagnosis and treatment.

The department also undertakes randomised controlled trials, is involved in multicentre collaborative research projects and performs prospective observational studies in heart function in healthy and sick pregnant women. It contributes to the scientific literature through case reports and authoring of book chapters for specialized textbooks in obstetric anaesthesia, is involved in the authoring of systemic reviews for the Cochrane Collaboration of evidence-based medicine and also supervises anaesthetic trainees to achieve their formal research projects in anaesthesia. 

Our research in anaesthesia for gynaecological surgery encompasses examination of alternative airway devices in women undergoing laparoscopy, and pharmacological studies investigating local anaesthetic blood levels, and the pharmacogenomic aspects of analgesic agents.

Many of the department staff are invited speakers at national and international conferences. Staff within the department are involved in chairing and organising sessions for major international meetings as well as facilitating problem-based learning discussions and practical workshops. 

Dr James Griffiths is an executive member of the Obstetric Anaesthesia Special Interest Group.

Dr Phil Popham is a principal editor for the major international obstetric anaesthesia journal, the International Journal of Obstetric Anaesthesia, with Dr James Griffiths a member of the editorial board.