Who Let the Bugs Out?

“Maggot debridement is a valuable and rational treatment option for many ambulatory, home-bound and extended-care patients who have non-healing wounds,” say researchers from the University of California, Irvine in the September issue of Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

According to Reuters Health, the authors note that in the first half of the 20th century debridement, or cleansing, by using maggots therapy was used by thousands of surgeons throughout the world. By the 1940s, however, maggot therapy had largely disappeared. Now, it is once again being recognized as an alternative to conventional wound care.

Led by Ronald A. Sherman, MD, department of medicine and pathology at the University of California at Irvine, maggot debridement was studied in 21 patients, ages 35 to 95 years old, with non-healing wounds.

According to Reuters, “For 20 of the patients, disinfected larvae of the species Phaenicia sericata were placed into the wound and a gauze wrap or cage-like dressing was used to contain them.”

Maggot therapy completely or significantly debrided 18 of the wounds. Eleven healed without any additional surgical procedures, including seven that healed within six months.

The researchers conclude, “Outpatient maggot debridement is safe, effective and acceptable to most patients, even when administered by non-physicians.”

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