As more and more patients have difficult wounds to heal, we have looked to the past and brought back more primitive yet effective ways to clean and close wounds. One of these techniques is putting maggots into wounds.
Maggots are simply baby or immature flies. There are many species of flies, some of which are not beneficial for wounds. So it is not a good idea to go diving into dumpsters trying to find a nice batch of them. Special pharmacies have them available for wound care clinics and hospitals. Once ordered, they can be shipped overnight and ready the next day for application.
Once the maggots are placed in a wound, precautions need to be taken so that they do not escape. A mesh net is put over the wound, and the wound is surrounded by a very adherent material. This keeps them in the wound so that they can deliver maximum benefit. The maggots will then secrete enzymes that dissolve the dead and non-viable tissue at the wound’s surface over a couple days’ time. Once dissolved, the maggots consume the components of the dissolved material. After a couple days in the wound, the maggots can become much larger then when they were put in. They are removed from the wound to assess if they did their job well. It may take a couple of treatments of maggot therapy to remove all the dead tissue.
Another great benefit of maggot therapy is that it can be combined with other wound treatments without caution. Antibiotics, hyperbaric oxygen, and even wound VACs (vacuum assisted closure) can be used after maggots to increase the chance of healing.
Although putting eventual flies into a wound may not seem very cutting edge or fancy, some treatments stand the test of time. Maggot therapy can help wounds to heal and prevent amputations of the foot and leg. Ask your podiatrist if he feels that maggot therapy may be beneficial for the healing of your wound.