Use of Antimicrobial Silver in Medical Implants
Antimicrobial silver is being used in more and more medical implants – such as in catheters, shunts, and bone plates and screws – to help prevent post-surgical infection of the implant site.
But is this practice safe? And does it result in a significant reduction of post-surgical infection?
The good news is that based on existing clinical data, silver-coated implants are not only safe, but they do indeed dramatically reduce post-surgical infection.
The bad news is that researchers have yet to figure out a way to more accurately control the release of silver ions from the silver-coated implants. This means there can be times when not enough silver ions to control infection are being released, and times when more than enough ionic silver is being released from the implant.
Researchers are now looking at ways to more carefully control the amount of silver ions being released from implants, so as to more effectively control the possibility of infection. Here’s the story…
Hi, Steve Barwick here, for The Silver Edge…
According to this website, silver is now used as an antimicrobial agent in numerous implant technologies, including:
Even bone cement is being mixed with silver to help prevent infections (see clinical study overview, here) after bone surgery.
What’s more, titanium plates coated with silver nanoparticles are now being used in a variety of implants, and clinical studies have demonstrated silver to be completely compatible with the body’s cells, causing no cytotoxicity while dramatically reducing levels of pathogenic microorganisms at the implant site. (See clinical study overview, here.)
The idea being that implants coated with antimicrobial silver will have far less chance of becoming repositories for colonies of infection microbes such as those that can cause MRSA or other serious internal infections.
At present, at least 100,000 cases of internal infection associated with medical implants – such as hip or knee joint replacements – are reported every year, at a cost to the U.S. health care system of over $1.5 billion annually.
But a simple coating of silver on the medical implant can help keep microbial contamination of the implant site to a bare minimum, resulting in far fewer serious infections after implant surgery.
This helps prevent the need for drastic measures should a surgical implant site become infected.
Without silver-coated implants, the only options are long-term therapy with antibiotic drugs… surgical removal of the implant…debridement of the infected tissue surrounding the implant…and implant replacement – all of which carry serious dangers of their own.
More Advances Coming
But while silver-coated medical implants are proving to be extremely helpful in preventing infection of the implant surgical site, they’re not perfect.
That’s because infection prevention is completely dependent upon the release of silver ions from the silver-coated implant. And that release of silver ions can be inconsistent, depending upon the location of the implant, the person’s body chemistry and a host of other factors.
For example, studies have demonstrated that more silver ions
are released naturally in the presence of acidic bodily fluids than in the
presence of alkaline bodily fluids. So
shifts in the acidity or alkalinity of bodily fluids can increase (or decrease)
the number of infection-fighting silver ions being released from a silver-coated
For example, according to this 2015 news
article titled “Silver Shines as Antibacterial for Medical Implants,” Professor
Shirwaiker reveals that he’s working on “engineering ways to apply
a low-intensity electrical charge to a silver-titanium orthopedic
This technique would allow a silver-coated titanium implant -- such as a hip or knee joint replacement -- to release on a constant and controlled basis “silver ions that kill or neutralize bacteria on and around the implant.”
There has to be a way to make sure the silver coating on the implant releases enough silver ions to consistently get the job of killing pathogens done, not just at the implant site, but in the surrounding tissues as well.
After all, anytime silver is used on a medical implant, it’s going to release silver ions as soon as acidic bodily fluids react with the silver coating on the implant.
But this natural release of silver ions from the silver-coated implant cannot be effectively controlled. Sometimes the release of silver ions is high enough to kill all of the pathogens in the environment around the implant, and sometimes it’s not, depending upon a variety of biological factors.
However, as Professor Shirwaiker’s research is demonstrating, if a very tiny electrical charge – perhaps battery driven, similar to the way a pacemaker works -- is applied to the silver-coated implant, then the release of silver ions can be more effectively controlled.
The challenge, of course, is to make sure that the tiny electrical
charge on the silver-coated implant does not release too much ionic silver into the surrounding area, resulting over
time in silver buildup or even potential toxicity to nearby healthy cells.
Basically, Professor Shirwaiker’s idea is that if infection begins to show at the implant site in spite of the fact that the implant has been silver-coated, then the power source delivering silver ions from the silver-coated implant could be turned up by remote control so that more silver ions are released until the threat of infection is abated. Then it can be turned back down.
Professor Shirwaiker looks forward to the time when such an electrically based system controlling silver ion release from implants can be incorporated into any type of surgical implant.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that silver-coated implant technology is still in its early stages, and more is being learned all of the time as researchers continue to study the technology and its benefits.
There’s no doubt that silver-treated implants work to help prevent infection at the implant site.
The only factor researchers haven’t pinned down yet is the ability to more effectively control the release of silver ions at the implant site in order to make sure there’s enough silver present to prevent infection, while not overloading the body’s tissues with silver which theoretically could result in a case of localized argyria (i.e., tissue staining).
What Some People Are Doing
Some people with simple medical implants, such as catheters, are taking matters into their own hands and using colloidal silver in order to prevent infections at the surgical site.
For example, on the Testimonials page of TheSilverEdge.com website, one woman tells how she used colloidal silver to help resolve her husband’s infections in an artificial bladder. Here’s what she wrote:
“In 1993 my husband had cancer of the urinary bladder and prostrate.
The surgeons who performed the surgery to remove the cancer made an internal artificial bladder from the ascending colon with a valve and an opening to the bladder on the right side of his abdomen.
This internal artificial bladder is called an Indiana Pouch. It has to be catheterized every 4-6 hours to empty it.
For the past 16 years there have been continuous infections in the Indiana Pouch with my husband needing to take antibiotics for each infection. Maybe a week to two weeks would be infection free. Every method of keeping the pouch clear of bacteria, etc. has been tried. The bug in the pouch was E. coli.
At times my husband was hospitalized with such severe infections needing to be given antibiotics in his veins. After so many antibiotics the bacteria had become resistant to almost all available drugs.
Colloidal Silver to the rescue! My husband takes 1 tablespoon of 10 ppm twice a day by mouth. I instill 2 ounces of colloidal silver into the pouch in the morning and at bedtime. Thus the cure of the Indiana Pouch infections.
This process has been used for months thereby eliminating the need for antibiotics. We could never afford to buy the amount of colloidal silver that is used daily to prevent infection of the pouch. Every three days I make two quarts of colloidal silver for my husband’s use.
The Micro-Particle Colloidal Silver Generator has been a life saver. It’s easy to use, making a reliable amount of micro-particle silver at an economical cost.”
-- G.E., Jackson, LA
In another instance, a gentleman with a home dialysis tube in his stomach contracted a peritoneal infection, and used oral doses of colloidal silver to stop it:
"Steve, I read your emails all the time about ways to use Colloidal
Silver. Well, I thought I’d relate a way I’ve never seen before. I used it
starting last Friday evening.
If you’re interested in learning how to make your own high-quality colloidal silver at home, for less than 36 cents a quart, here are some additional short articles you might want to take a look at:
Meanwhile, I’ll be back next week with another great article on colloidal silver….
Yours for the safe, sane and responsible use of colloidal silver,
Steve Barwick, author
Important Note and Disclaimer: The contents of this Ezine have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Information conveyed herein is from sources deemed to be accurate and reliable, but no guarantee can be made in regards to the accuracy and reliability thereof. The author, Steve Barwick, is a natural health journalist with over 30 years of experience writing professionally about natural health topics. He is not a doctor. Therefore, nothing stated in this Ezine should be construed as prescriptive in nature, nor is any part of this Ezine meant to be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. Nothing reported herein is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The author is simply reporting in journalistic fashion what he has learned during the past 17 years of journalistic research into colloidal silver and its usage. Therefore, the information and data presented should be considered for informational purposes only, and approached with caution. Readers should verify for themselves, and to their own satisfaction, from other knowledgeable sources such as their doctor, the accuracy and reliability of all reports, ideas, conclusions, comments and opinions stated herein. All important health care decisions should be made under the guidance and direction of a legitimate, knowledgeable and experienced health care professional. Readers are solely responsible for their choices. The author and publisher disclaim responsibility and/or liability for any loss or hardship that may be incurred as a result of the use or application of any information included in this Ezine.
Copyright 2015 | Life & Health Research Group, LLC | PO Box 1239 | Peoria AZ 85380-1239 | All rights reserved.