Evidently Advent Day 23: best health evidence wrapped up for the festive season!

Is silver just for Christmas?


Does silver have any place in our hospitals beyond the Christmas tree in the foyer? It’s used in various therapeutic ways as it’s an antimicrobial agent, but do we know whether it’s worth the expense? Here’s some Cochrane evidence:

  • No evidence on silver (in dressings or creams) applied to diabetic foot ulcers
  • Not enough evidence to support the use of silver-containing dressings or creams for preventing wound infection or for treating infected wounds. There’s also some weak evidence that silver sulphadiazine has no effect on infection and actually slows down healing in patients with partial-thickness burns
  • Silver alloy catheters do not appear to reduce the incidence of symptomatic catheter-associated urinary tract infections compared with standard catheters and they are more expensive
  • Silver acetate products, such as gums and lozenges, do not appear to be helpful for smokers trying to quit

Evidently Cochrane has been shortlisted as one of the top 10 health organization blogs in the UK Blog Awards 2015! Do explore the site – we hope there are blogs here to interest everyone. You can also follow us – and talk to us – on Twitter @ukcochranecentr and @SarahChapman30


Bergin S, Wraight P. Silver based wound dressings and topical agents for treating diabetic foot ulcers. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2006, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD005082. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005082.pub2 – See more at: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD005082/WOUNDS_silver-based-wound-dressings-and-topical-agents-containing-silver-for-treating-diabetic-foot-ulcers#sthash.JLaCd6eH.dpuf

Storm-Versloot MN, Vos CG, Ubbink DT, Vermeulen H. Topical silver for preventing wound infection. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD006478. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006478.pub2 – See more at: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD006478/WOUNDS_probable-that-silver-containing-dressings-and-creams-do-not-prevent-wound-infection-or-promote-healing_#sthash.pxaul7sa.dpuf

Vermeulen H, van Hattem JM, Storm-Versloot MN, Ubbink DT, Westerbos SJ. Topical silver for treating infected wounds. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD005486. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005486.pub2 – See more at: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD005486/WOUNDS_topical-silver-for-treating-infected-wounds.#sthash.xw5X2I84.dpuf

Lam TBL, Omar M, Fisher E, Gillies K, MacLennan S. Types of indwelling urethral catheters for short-term catheterisation in hospitalised adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD004013. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004013.pub4 – See more at: http://summaries.cochrane.org/CD004013/INCONT_types-of-urethral-catheters-for-management-of-short-term-voiding-problems-in-hospitalised-adults#sthash.YdTjpnfN.dpuf and in this Evidently Cochrane blog https://www.evidentlycochrane.net/nursing-basics-catheters-dressings-cheaper-sometimes-better/



Sarah Chapman

About Sarah Chapman

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Sarah's work as a Knowledge Broker at Cochrane UK focuses on disseminating Cochrane evidence through social media, including Evidently Cochrane blogs, blogshots and the ‘Evidence for Everyday’ series for nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and patients. A former registered general nurse, Sarah has a particular interest making evidence accessible and useful to practitioners and to others making decisions about health. Before joining Cochrane, Sarah also worked on systematic reviews for the University of Oxford and the Royal College of Nursing Institute, and obtained degrees in History from the University of Oxford and in the history of women’s health and illness in early modern England (MPhil., University of Reading).

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