Use of Acticoat dressings in burns: what is the evidence?
Khundkar R., Malic C., Burge T.
The virtues of silver as an antimicrobial agent have been known for some time. Various silver containing dressings are currently used for the treatment of wounds. Introduced in the late 1990s, Acticoat is a nanocrystalline silver dressing developed to overcome some shortcomings of the older dressings by providing sustained release of silver up to 7 days. We aim to determine the level of evidence available in the literature in view of recent increased usage of Acticoat. A Medline search was conducted to identify articles evaluating the use of Acticoat in burn wounds. A level of evidence adapted from the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based-Medicine was assigned to each of these articles. Only one study was considered to be LOE 1, which is a multicentre randomised controlled trial comparing Acticoat against Silver Sulfadiazine. One further randomised control trial was downgraded to LOE 2 due to a wide confidence interval. Twenty studies (66%) were LOE 5 of which 6 were case reports and 14 were in vitro/animal studies. The available LOE 1 study demonstrates that Acticoat has better antimicrobial activity compared to another available silver dressing. Other studies suggest Acticoat has fewer adverse effects and reduces healing times. Its ease of application and low frequency of change makes it an ideal dressing in burn wounds. More well designed and properly reported randomised controlled trials are essential for informed clinical decision-making.