The Use of Silver-Impregnated Packing Strips in the Treatment of Osteomyelitis: A Case Report

Michael F. Moore, MD, FACS, CWS; Nanci Dobson, RN; Jeffrey T. Glattly, BBA


Wounds. 2006;18(9):271-276. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


The treatment of osteomyelitis is multifactorial and requires surgical debridement of the infected bone as well as the use of systemic antimicrobials for an extended period of time. Traditionally, these wounds are packed open to allow healing by secondary intent, and the dressing has only a passive action. The case reported here employs the use of an interactive silver packing strip that facilitated healing because of its antimicrobial activity for which the authors believe further evaluation is justified.


The incidence of neurotropic ulcers is reported to affect between 4% and 6% of the diabetic population and is associated with significant morbidity.[1] It has been reported that 85% of lower leg amputations initially present as a foot ulceration.[1] Complicating the initial clinical presentation of the ulcer is the extent and degree of pathology involved. The sensory deprivation and lack of pain associated with these ulcers causes the initial clinical presentation to include significant tissue necrosis requiring extensive surgical intervention. Deep-seated abscesses with extensive undermining and osteomyelitis often accompany the small ulceration that initially brings the patient to seek medical attention. The diminished immune response found in the diabetic population also factors into the degree of pathology associated with these ulcers.

The diagnosis of osteomyelitis is problematic with these ulcers. Though it is suspected clinically when probing to bone is present, the classical radiographic findings often lag behind the clinical picture. Additionally, the use of systemic antimicrobials can be ineffectual in achieving suitable levels at the ulcer site.[2] The polymicrobial flora that is often present in the chronic wound may limit the use of topical antimicrobial agents because of the lack of sensitivity, potential toxicity to the host cellular components, and the potential for the development of resistant strains.[3]

The use of topical silver dressings has expanded in the chronic wound care setting due to the broad antimicrobial spectrum, low toxicity, and resistance profile of silver.[4] The recent introduction of silver-impregnated wound packing strips (SilverSeal® packing strips with X-Static®, Noble Biomaterials, Scranton, Pa) affords the clinician the ability to deliver the antimicrobial effect of silver using recommended treatment protocols.[5] Silver-impregnated packing strips are similar to existing packing products on the market in that they come in varying widths (Figure 1) to accommodate diverse clinical presentations. Unlike standard gauze, the strips are manufactured using nylon fiber that has been metalized with pure silver (Figures 2 and 3). The nylon resists absorption of wound fluid, enhancing the wicking effect and allowing the metalized silver fiber greater surface area to interact in the wound environment. The hydrophobic effect of the nylon fiber prevents saturation of the dressing, allowing it to function over longer periods of time, thereby decreasing dressing changes. The following case presentation represents the clinical use of this modality, resulting in resolution of the patient's ulcer in a shorter period of time than the usual 6 weeks stipulated for such treatment.

Figure 1.

Silver-impregnated packing strips.

Figure 2.

Nylon packing strip magnification (15X).

Figure 3.

Silver packing strip magnification (20X).


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