Vascular research

Vascular disease is a collective term for diseases of the arteries and veins; every part of the body that has blood flow can be affected. It’s as common as cancer and heart disease and accounts for 40% of deaths in the UK - many of which are preventable.

The Academic Vascular Surgery Unit (AVSU) is recognised as a leading centre for vascular research. We have a reputation for delivering high impact studies and our team is passionate about improving patient outcomes.

We undertake commercial and non-commercial projects including observational research, novel drug therapy and clinical interventions with a track record in attracting significant grant funding.  We have conducted several high-profile and influential randomised controlled trials and contributed directly to advances in treatment practices and improvements for NICE guidelines.

Our particular areas of expertise include: wounds research, surgical site infection, lower limb ulcers and exercise and prehabilitation.


Professor Ian Chetter is the academic lead for vascular research within the Centre.

Please see our people in the Clinical Sciences Centre for members of the vascular research theme.

We are a team of multi-disciplinary researchers and specialists who investigate and manage all aspects of arterial and venous disease and associated therapies. Our team of experts include: consultant vascular surgeons, consultant interventional radiologists, specialist research nurses, vascular technicians and sonographers, exercise physiologists, specialist registrars, core surgical trainees, junior doctors, research fellows, data entry clerks, trial admin and a research manager.

Training and education  

The AVSU is well established in the training and supervision of successful MD, MSc, BSc and PGCert students, supporting the development of successful independent early career researchers. There are many opportunities for students to work with us on new and existing vascular projects, to gain experience in organising research, getting involved with data collection and writing publications.


Established 15 years ago, our service has a dedicated vascular ward, vascular lab and research department. We have access to facilities at Hull Royal Infirmary including a fully equipped vascular laboratory, (ultrasound scanners, plethysmography equipment, treadmills, cardiopulmonary exercise testing equipment, flow mediated vasodilatation, laser doppler flowmetry, arterial stiffness and pulse wave velocity assessment); access to CT, MRA, combined procedures, interventional radiology suites and dedicated wound assessment and treatment rooms.


We work closely with a number of other specialties at Hull University Teaching Hospital NHS Trust including; cardiothoracic, diabetes, microbiology, podiatry, radiology and renal and stoke.

We regularly collaborate with experts within the University of Hull including: Clinical Biosciences Institute; Centre for Medical Engineering and Technology; Biological Sciences; and Sport, Health and Exercise Science. We also have close links with the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York, clinical departments in the NHS and to industry.

Our research efforts are also strengthened by collaborations with the national vascular societies (VSGBI, SVN, SVT, VERN, The Rouleaux Club and the Circulation Foundation).

Research highlights

A pragmatic multicentre randomised controlled trial to assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of negative pressure wound therapy versus usual care for surgical wounds healing by secondary intention (SWHSI 2)
A pragmatic multicentre randomised controlled trial to assess the clinical and cost effectiveness of negative pressure wound therapy versus usual care for surgical wounds healing by secondary intention (SWHSI 2)

Funded by: NIHR TA Clinical Trials & Evaluation (£2,051,761.04)

Timescale: 2018 to 2024

PI: Professor Ian Chetter

Collaborators: York Trials Unit, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, University of Bristol, University of Manchester, University of Sheffield, University Hospitals of Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust 

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) is a relatively new treatment for open surgical wounds. It uses a small machine to apply gentle suction to a wound through a special dressing. This removes wound fluid, may keep the wound clean and may help with healing.

However, we don't know if NPWT is as good as, better than or worse than normal wound dressings because there has not been enough independent research to decide if or when this is the best treatment.

The SWHSI-2 Trial will compare NPWT with normal dressings to see if it makes any difference to how quickly these open wounds heal.


Chetter, C. Arundel, B. C. Martin, C. Hewitt, C. Fairhurst, K. Joshi, et al. Negative pressure wound therapy versus usual care for surgical wounds healing by secondary intention (SWHSI-2 trial): study protocol for a pragmatic, multicentre, cross surgical specialty, randomised controlled trial. Trials 2021 Vol. 22 Issue 1 Pages 739. DOI: 10.1186/s13063-021-05662-2

The Vascular Priority Setting Partnership (PSP)
The Vascular Priority Setting Partnership (PSP)

Funded by: The Vascular Society of Great Britain & Ireland

Timescale: 2017 - ongoing

PI / Co-I: Professor Ian Chetter, Mr George Smith, Mr Dan Carradice

Collaborators: SVN, SVT,  BSIR, VERN, The Rouleaux Club, BACPAR

The Vascular Society of Great Britain and Ireland (VSGBI) in association with the James Lind Alliance (JLA) undertook a national Priority Setting Process (PSP) to find out the most important research priorities for vascular conditions.

This process provided an exciting opportunity to gather the unique perspectives of clinicians, patients and carers throughout the UK, with direct experience of living with vascular conditions and in delivering vascular care.

Over 1,800 research priorities were submitted and ‘top ten’ lists of priorities have now been established across nine vascular conditions. Researchers and funders are encouraged to focus on addressing these questions and supporting studies in these areas. 

For more information visit our Vascular PSP pages.


JVSGBI. The Vascular Priority Setting Partnership: setting the agenda for UK vascular research. J Vasc Soc GB Irel 2021;1(Suppl):S1–S31.

Smith GE, Long J, Wallace T, Carradice D, Chetter IC. Identifying the research priorities of healthcare professionals in UK vascular surgery: modified Delphi approach. BJS Open 2020;5(2):zraa025.

D. Bosanquet, S. Nandhra, K. Wong, J. Long, I. Chetter and R. Hinchliffe. Research priorities for lower limb amputation in patients with vascular disease. Journal of Vascular Societies Great Britain and Ireland 2021 Vol. 1 Issue 1 Pages 11-16.

De Siqueira JR, Fielding CA, Pettigrew GJ, Robson MG, Rogers SK, Steiner K, Withers W, Long J, Gronlund T, Chetter I, Smith GE. Defining priorities in vascular access research. .J.Vasc.Soc.G.B.Irel. 2022;1(2):30-33.

High Intensity Interval Training In pATiEnts with intermittent claudication (INITIATE)
High Intensity Interval Training In pATiEnts with intermittent claudication (INITIATE): a proof-of-concept prospective cohort study to assess acceptability, feasibility and potential clinical efficacy

Funded by: NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (£217,175)

Timescale: August 2019 – September 2022

PI: Professor Ian Chetter, Dr Sean Pymer

Collaborators: Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Institute of Clinical and Applied Health Research HYMS, Centre for Sport, Exercise and Life Sciences, Coventry University, Department of Sport, Health and Exercise Science, University of Hull, Department of Cardiac Rehabilitation, Centre for Exercise and Health, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust

The NHS and the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence recommend Supervised Exercise Programmes (SEP) as first line treatment for intermittent claudication. However, although we know SEPs work, they are not popular with patients. Only 24% of patients who are offered exercise therapy will actually start the programme.

Recent research suggests a new type of "high intensity" exercise programme, may be just as effective but more appealing to patients.

This study will assess whether "high intensity" exercise programmes in patients with claudication are safe and well tolerated, effective in improving symptoms, fitness and quality of life and are appealing and improve uptake rates. 


Pymer S, Harwood A, Ibeggazene S On behalf of INITIATE investigator group, et al High INtensity Interval Training In pATiEnts with intermittent claudication (INITIATE): protocol for a multicentre, proof-of-concept, prospective interventional study BMJ Open 2020;10:e038825. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-038825

Evaluating Shockwave therapy Of Lower Extremity diabetic Foot ULcers (SOLEFUL) 
Evaluating Shockwave therapy Of Lower Extremity diabetic Foot ULcers (SOLEFUL)

Funded by: NIHR Doctoral Fellowship (£513,126)

Timescale: October 2021 to October 2024

PI: Dr Louise Hitchman

Collaborators: York Trials Unit

Diabetes affects more than 4.5million people in the UK with cost to the NHS estimated at over £1 billion per year. One of the commonest complications of diabetes are foot ulcers. Despite current best treatment, these ulcers can be very difficult to heal and some never do.

Preliminary research has identified shockwave therapy as a promising new treatment in which high-power soundwaves (similar to ultrasound) are delivered to the ulcer. This may make ulcers heal faster. However, the effectiveness of shockwave therapy and the optimum dose is unknown.

This research will include a pilot trial to compare sham (not active) shockwaves, low number of shockwaves and high number of shockwaves on diabetic foot ulcer healing.