Wound Care Frederick MD
Frederick , MD
Annals of the Strange, but True
Well-known for devouring the flesh of corpses, fly larvae, also known as maggots, are the last thing you’d expect—or want—to see in a hospital room. Yet based on a new study published in Wound Repair and Regeneration, these disgusting critters may just be the saviors of people suffering from a particularly intractable type of wound.
The study involved 50 patients with pressure ulcers (aka bedsores), the painful, ugly spots that are the curse of the wheelchair-bound and bedridden. Their sores had failed to respond to conventional treatments—creams and surgery—and were therefore fertile breeding ground for gangrenous infections.
So it was time for some heavy hitters. Civil War doctors are the ones who first noticed that wounds with maggots in them healed faster. Seems the tiny flesh worms have little to no interest in healthy, living tissue, but a strong affinity for the necrotic stuff around a pressure ulcer. Maggot therapy fell out of favor over the years (no surprise), but it seems to be making a bit of a comeback. So the researchers decided to give it a try.
The first step: Each volunteer was treated with five to eight creamy white maggots per centimeter on their bedsores. Then, a bandage was placed around the wound and covered with a por-ous sheet of nylon or mesh. Some maggots escaped, but those that didn’t quickly consumed the dangerous dead tissue, while secreting an enzyme that appears to promote healthy tissue growth. After three weeks, 80 percent of the patients’ wounds had healed—nearly twice as many as healed with conventional treatment.
The ghoulish heralds of death made even the nurses queasy. But to the patients, the concept of hosting a few flesh-eating insects for a couple of weeks wasn’t a problem. Maybe that’s because they were facing amputation if the treatment failed. Or perhaps it’s because in their former lives, they had faced much tougher challenges: They were all WWII vets.
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