Antimicrobials and Wound Healing

There is no significant difference between rates of wound healing with povidone iodine ointment and two formulations of silver sulfadiazine versus untreated controls, according to a recent study completed at the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine (VMRCVM). Additionally, all bandaged wounds regardless of treatment, produced exuberant granulation tissue, or proud flesh.


An example of the type of photograph taken in the experiment for assessment of wound healing.


Berry prepares to turn the final horse from the study back out to pasture with his buddies in the research herd.


Douglass B. Berry, DVM, MS, Dipl. ACVS, a clinical instructor of large animal surgery/critical care at the VMRCVM in Blacksburg, Va., also found in this study that a recently developed silver sulfadiazine slow-release matrix on unbandaged wounds had the same result as medications applied beneath bandages, but without proud flesh formation.

Silver sulfadiazine, often used as an ointment for human burn patients (Silvadene was used in this study), has been shown to increase the rate of epithelialization, the slower phase of wound healing, when connective tissue cells called fibroblasts begin to close over the wound. Silver sulfadiazine recently was adapted by Royer Biomedical to be used in a matrix (Silvadex SR) that allows it to dry and remain in contact with the wound, while slowly releasing the antibiotic. (A common pitfall of traditional ointments is they often "melt," or slide off the wound.)

"There wasn't a dramatic or statistically significant difference between the Silvadex groups versus the povidone iodine group," said Berry, and there was no indication that either had a deleterious effect.

All bandaged wounds produced proud flesh, while none of the unbandaged wounds did. Use of dressings like Silvadex SR might provide long-lasting antibacterial activity without the deleterious effects of bandaging. Berry thinks future studies should look at compounds such as triple antibiotic ointment since they have been shown to be effective in combination with Band-Aids in humans. He explained that testing a broad variety of ointments is difficult in a research setting because of the large number of horses required to generate statisical power, and it is expensive.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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