The Cochrane Library has published a review of the available evidence for topical silver for wounds. The aim of the analysis was to assess the efficacy of silver-containing wound dressings and topical agents in preventing wound infection and aiding healing of wounds.
The review identified 26 trials involving 2,066 participants. The studies were mainly conducted in patients with burns although 6 were conducted in non-burn wounds. The trials also varied in design by comparing silver-containing products to non-silver dressings, silver-containing dressings to silver-containing cream and one trial compared two types of silver dressing.
The review noted that the overall quality of the studies was poor. Half failed to report funding of the study and only three trials reported any details of the blinding process or the randomisation sequence.
The authors of this review conclude that, "there is insufficient evidence to establish whether silver-containing dressings or topical agents promote wound healing or prevent wound infection". They also suggest that there is "not enough evidence to support the use of silver-containing dressings or creams". These conclusions are consistent with trial work published in the British Journal of Surgery.
Action: Clinicians should be aware of this review. Routine use of silver-containing dressings and topical agents should be avoided.