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Nurse uses ‘silver’ dressing to prevent amputation

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An 89-year-old man who feared his leg would be amputated after an arterial ulcer became seriously infected recovered, after nurses applied a ground-breaking wound dressing containing silver.

The case, along with other anecdotal evidence, suggests early promise for a new wound care product, according to the company that developed it.

“I was astounded to find that the infection had completely cleared”

Nicola Wilson

Nicola Wilson, a vascular nurse practitioner at York District Hospital, said the patient’s health deteriorated rapidly when an ulcer became infected and doctors warned that a lower leg amputation was likely.

As a last ditch attempt to save the leg, he received angioplasty and Ms Wilson treated the wound with a new dressing containing silver. She said: “I had been told that there was little chance of saving the gentleman’s leg, but we were trialing the new dressing and I thought it was worth a try.

“The wound began to show signs of healing in just one week. By the second week, I was astounded to find that the infection had completely cleared,” she said.

“As a result, the elderly man was transferred to a rehabilitation unit and discharged back to home to his wife a few weeks later,” she added.

The dressing, manufactured by Crawford Healthcare under the name KerraContact Ag, is the first and to use silver in its most active state.

“Silver has been used to treat infection for thousands of years”

Christian Stephenson

The company said in tests the dressing was clinically proven to kill 99.999% of bacteria. Meanwhile, biofilms that form to protect bacteria could be destroyed in just 24 hours and the signs and symptoms of infection were reduced in seven days, it said.

Christian Stephenson, research and development director at Crawford Healthcare, said: “Silver has been used to treat infection for thousands of years, but interest in it waned when antibiotics became widely available.

“We knew that KerraContact Ag had the potential to make a significant impact on the healthcare industry in the development and testing stages, but hearing how it has already helped to make such a difference to people’s lives really puts it into perspective,” he said.

He added: “We have also heard from a senior tissue viability nurse who had used the dressing on a patient suffering from cellulitis, a condition that would usually require strong IV antibiotics.

“KerraContact Ag was used whilst arrangements were made to administer the IV antibiotics, but the cellulitis cleared before the patient was even admitted to hospital,” said Mr Stephenson.

  • 5 Comments

Readers' comments (5)

  • When is this available to the general public and can it begot on prescription?

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  • KerraContact Ag is available now on prescription.

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  • Sounds like colloidal silver might be a good thing to investigate for wound care!

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  • michael stone

    I'm wondering how much this particular dressing costs ?

    We are repeatedly told that one of the barriers to anti-biotic development, is their 'use briefly and cure' nature compared to 'take forever' medication (things like statins). Some metal surfaces are I think 'unfriendly' for bacteria (copper ?) and it does seem that this type of dressing could be very useful if proven/developed. But I hope such dressings, will be inexpensive enough to avoid any significant 'rationed on cost grounds' effect (which probably would not apply, in the situation described here, anyway).

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  • Very interesting, and very satisfying to know that this gentleman avoided an amputation. Congrats to the nursing staff.

    It is interesting because we are developing items for the ward environment such as ultra-smooth and cleanable privacy screens that will have an additive containing anti-microbial silver. Watch this space.
    Ambrose Kingston, Nojerm Ltd, ambrose.kingston@nojerm.com

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