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Take One Leech and Call me in the Morning

April 20, 2017

One of the last things a patient imagines seeing as they look across a sterile operating room are leeches, maggots and scum-sucking fish. But, all three have earned a solid place in the medical community based on the results they achieve – simply by doing what comes naturally.

The Flies Have It

Maggots are nothing more than fly larvae: one of the most basic forms of life. But to many patients with wounds that refuse to respond to conventional treatment, they are a godsend. For the majority of people recovering from life-threatening wounds, contusions and limb re-attachments, antibiotics provide much of the follow-up care they need. But for a small percentage of patients who do not respond to modern medicines, maggots slither in to fill the gap.

Unlike most other living creatures, maggots thrive on dead tissue. Applied to a dressing that is made in the form of a small “cage”, maggots are applied to almost any area that does not respond well to conventional treatment. The 1mm maggot thrives on consuming dead tissue (a process called “debridement”), while ignoring healthy areas. After several days, the maggots are removed after having consumed up to ten times their own weight in dead tissue, cleaning the wound and leaving an ammonia-like anti-microbial enzyme behind. read more

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