Are Bandages With Silver Linings Better?

February 21, 2014

As surgical site infections are some of the most common postsurgical complications, finding supplies that can reduce their likelihood is critical.

As surgical site infections are some of the most common postsurgical complications, finding supplies that can reduce their likelihood is critical. Fortunately, new non-adherent silver hydrogel dressings that capitalize on ionic silver’s ability to provide broad-spectrum antimicrobial action without harming tissue cells may offer an answer.

A study published in the December 2013 issue of Foot & Ankle Specialist compared the incidences of superficial and deep infections in patients treated with silver hydrogel sheet (SHS) dressings to those treated with petroleum-based (PB) dressings. As a secondary objective, the researchers looked at the incidence of epithelialization, dehiscence, uninfected incisional complications, and scarring in patients who had foot and ankle incisions longer than 1 cm.

The researchers enrolled patients prospectively and randomized them to SHS dressing or a standard PB dressing. Across all 59 patients, the authors reported 5 infections, 4 of which were superficial and 1 of which was deep. However, only 1 superficial infection occurred in the SHS group, compared to 3 in the PB group, and the deep infection also occurred in the PB group.

In the PB group, 3 patients developed wound dehiscence and 1 developed a fibrinous scab. The PB patients also had more incisional complications than the SHS patients. Although scar length was shortened significantly in the SHS group compared to the PB group, scar width was similar in both groups.

Despite disadvantages that include systemic absorption leading leukopenia and the need for repeat application, many surgeons prescribe silver sulfadiazine cream as a topical antimicrobial agent. The researchers recommended silver hydrogel dressings as suitable and safer alternatives by virtue of their controlled release mechanism.