Silver-containing products play an important role in the management of burn wound infections. We sought to compare the efficacy of commonly used silver delivery approaches including nanocrystalline silver, silver-impregnated hydrofiber dressing, and silver-impregnated foam dressing as the main products in the management of partial thickness burns. A systematic review was performed by searching PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane and other databases to identify relevant randomised controlled trials and observational studies. Due to the paucity of direct head-to-head trials an indirect treatment comparison was performed. The use of nanocrystalline silver was associated with a statistically significant reduction in length of stay when compared to silver-impregnated hydrofiber dressing (p=0.027) and a shorter time to healing when compared to silver-impregnated foam dressing (p=0.0328). There were no statistically significant differences in infection rates and surgical procedures between nanocrystalline silver, silver-impregnated hydrofiber dressing and silver-impregnated foam dressing; however, nanocrystalline silver was found to be the most beneficial for all the outcomes, including infection rates and surgical procedures, according to the Monte-Carlo simulation method. In conclusion, current evidence from the published literature suggests that where the clinical and microbiological priority is to get in control of infection quickly it would seem prudent to use the most potent silver delivery system, which is nanocrystalline silver. Nanocrystalline silver may offer both clinical and economic benefits compared to alternative treatments in the management of patients with mixed burns that are at high risk of infection. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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