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Maggots to the rescue

IRVINE, CALIFORNIA. Non-healing diabetic foot ulcers account for 25-50% of all hospital admissions relating to patients with diabetes. Almost 15% of all diabetics will eventually develop foot ulcers and 15-25% of those will ultimately require amputation. A very serious problem indeed.

Medical researchers at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of California now report that maggot therapy is highly effective in healing diabetic foot ulcers. Their clinical study involved 18 patients with a total of 20 foot ulcers. Six of the patients were treated with conventional therapy (topical anti- microbials and frequent dressing changes), 6 were treated with maggot therapy, and 6 were treated with conventional and then with maggot therapy.

The maggot therapy involved placing disinfected fly larvae on the wound (under a loose gauze dressing) for periods up to 48 hours once or twice a week. After 4 weeks of treatment all dead (necrotic) tissue had disappeared from the maggot-treated wounds and healthy granulation tissue covered about 56% of the wound surface. In contrast, wounds treated with conventional therapy still had 33% necrotic tissue after 5 weeks of treatment and healthy granulation tissue covered only about 15% of the wound surface. The researchers conclude that maggot therapy should no longer just be used as a last resort before amputation, but should be considered as a first or second-line treatment option.
Sherman, Ronald A. Maggot therapy for treating diabetic foot ulcers unresponsive to conventional therapy. Diabetes Care, Vol. 26, February 2003, pp. 446-51

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