Implant-associated infection is a major source of morbidity in orthopaedic surgery. There has been extensive research into the development of materials that prevent biofilm formation, and hence, reduce the risk of infection. Silver nanoparticle technology is receiving much interest in the field of orthopaedics for its antimicrobial properties, and the results of studies to date are encouraging. Antimicrobial effects have been seen when silver nanoparticles are used in trauma implants, tumour prostheses, bone cement, and also when combined with hydroxyapatite coatings. Although there are promising results with in vitro and in vivo studies, the number of clinical studies remains small. Future studies will be required to explore further the possible side effects associated with silver nanoparticles, to ensure their use in an effective and biocompatible manner. Here we present a review of the current literature relating to the production of nanosilver for medical use, and its orthopaedic applications.
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