Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is one of the most common nosocomial infections in intubated and mechanically ventilated patients. Endotracheal tubes (ETTs) appear to be an independent risk factor for VAP. Silver-coated ETTs slowly release silver cations. It is these silver ions that appear to have a strong antimicrobial effect. Because of this antimicrobial effect of silver, silver-coated ETTs could be an effective intervention to prevent VAP in people who require mechanical ventilation for 24 hours or longer.
Our primary objective was to investigate whether silver-coated ETTs are effective in reducing the risk of VAP and hospital mortality in comparison with standard non-coated ETTs in people who require mechanical ventilation for 24 hours or longer. Our secondary objective was to ascertain whether silver-coated ETTs are effective in reducing the following clinical outcomes: device-related adverse events, duration of intubation, length of hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) stay, costs, and time to VAP onset.
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2014 Issue 10, MEDLINE, EMBASE, EBSCO CINAHL, and reference lists of trials. We contacted corresponding authors for additional information and unpublished studies. We did not impose any restrictions on the basis of date of publication or language. The date of the last search was October 2014.
We included all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-randomized trials that evaluated the effects of silver-coated ETTs or a combination of silver with any antimicrobial-coated ETTs with standard non-coated ETTs or with other antimicrobial-coated ETTs in critically ill people who required mechanical ventilation for 24 hours or longer. We also included studies that evaluated the cost-effectiveness of silver-coated ETTs or a combination of silver with any antimicrobial-coated ETTs.
Two review authors (GT, HV) independently extracted the data and summarized study details from all included studies using the specially designed data extraction form. We used standard methodological procedures expected by The Cochrane Collaboration. We performed meta-analysis for outcomes when possible.
We found three eligible randomized controlled trials, with a total of 2081 participants. One of the three included studies did not mention the amount of participants and presented no outcome data. The 'Risk of bias' assessment indicated that there was a high risk of detection bias owing to lack of blinding of outcomes assessors, but we assessed all other domains to be at low risk of bias. Trial design and conduct were generally adequate, with the most common areas of weakness in blinding. The majority of participants were included in centres across North America. The mean age of participants ranged from 61 to 64 years, and the mean duration of intubation was between 3.2 and 7.7 days. One trial comparing silver-coated ETTs versus non-coated ETTs showed a statistically significant decrease in VAP in favour of the silver-coated ETT (1 RCT, 1509 participants; 4.8% versus 7.5%, risk ratio (RR) 0.64, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.43 to 0.96; number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNTB) = 37; low-quality evidence). The risk of VAP within 10 days of intubation was significantly lower with the silver-coated ETTs compared with non-coated ETTs (1 RCT, 1509 participants; 3.5% versus 6.7%, RR 0.51, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.82; NNTB = 32; low-quality evidence). Silver-coated ETT was associated with delayed time to VAP occurrence compared with non-coated ETT (1 RCT, 1509 participants; hazard ratio 0.55, 95% CI 0.37 to 0.84). The confidence intervals for the results of the following outcomes did not exclude potentially important differences with either treatment. There were no statistically significant differences between groups in hospital mortality (1 RCT, 1509 participants; 30.4% versus 26.6%, RR 1.09, 95% CI 0.93 to 1.29; low-quality evidence); device-related adverse events (2 RCTs, 2081 participants; RR 0.65, 95% CI 0.37 to 1.16; low-quality evidence); duration of intubation; and length of hospital and ICU stay. We found no clinical studies evaluating the cost-effectiveness of silver-coated ETTs.
This review provides limited evidence that silver-coated ETT reduces the risk of VAP, especially during the first 10 days of mechanical ventilation.