The Amazing Meeting 2014

Like it? Share it!

Sign up for news and updates!






Enter word seen below
Visually impaired? Click here to have an audio challenge played.  You will then need to enter the code that is spelled out.
Change image

CAPTCHA image
Please leave this field empty

Login Form



Maggot News PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

For those with circulatory problems, leg ulcers can be a serious problem. A wound forms that refuses to heal, and as dead tissue around the site increases, the risk of infection and continued spreading grows.

Today’s treatment is hydrogel, which slowly removes the dead skin and allows healing to begin. Today, the press is abuzz with the news that a new study on maggot therapy had been released.(I've spared you the pictures).

The headlines are interesting. While most of the media got the story right with headlines that sound like: “Maggot Therapy No Better than Gel,” others seem to think maggot therapy is news, and announced “Maggots 'as successful at treating leg ulcers as standard dressings.'” Same study, same results: different headlines.

So yes, we’ve bumped into the old phenomenon of editors wanting to increase readership. I have to say, this is a very mild case, as nearly all the articles report the correct bottom line: maggots are not the best therapy for leg ulcers.

While many of us may find the idea disgusting, maggot therapy is not new. The concept is simple: maggots (fly larvae) eat only dead flesh, so if you apply them to a wound, they will very effectively remove all the dead flesh while leaving the living flesh clean and ready to heal. This was even shown in the movie “Gladiator.” Gross? Maybe... but if it works, grossness shouldn't be a major concern.

While maggot therapy does debride (remove dead flesh from) the wounds faster than hydrogel, it costs the same, has the same rate of infection, and ultimately has the same rate of healing as hyrdrogel. When you add in the fact that maggot therapy is more painful and MUCH more likely to cause patient discomfort (in the form of “agg! I’ve got maggots eating me!!), maggot therapy is NOT recommended.

So right now, hydrogel seems to be a winner. But if you’re in Africa with limited access to health care, maggots are a good option.

 

Trackback(0)
Comments (15)Add Comment
...
written by DaveHunt, March 21, 2009
We have maggot therapy here in the UK on the National Health Service and I do know one elderly lady who has had it. She did not find it physically painful and was quite amused by the whole thing.She had had painful leg ulcers for some time so I don't know whether this was tried after hydrogel.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by OPa, March 21, 2009
Actually, as far as maggots eating only dead tissue, it depends on the type of maggot. Many species of maggots eat living tissue which, of course, is a decided detriment to the eatee(not a word but fun to say). Summer is an especially good time to see this phenonemon--ask a veterinarian.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +3
...
written by GusGus, March 21, 2009
Obviously, the maggots use in therapy are the kind that eat only dead flesh!
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by MadScientist, March 21, 2009
Like OPa I was going to say make sure you use the right kind of maggots - the types which are not parasites. You also have to breed the flies yourself to make sure they're clean - yeah, clean flies and clean maggots. So what's new with maggot therapy? I guess it was a slow news day.

I remember dissecting a cat in biology class - one of my classmates wound up with maggots in her cat and she just scooped them up with her bare hands and threw them into the garbage can. I was surprised that the maggots didn't hollow out the entire cat and ruin her dissection; she seemed to have quite a few handfuls of the creatures. I asked her for the recipe she used to pickle her cat since the maggots seemed to like it so much.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +4
Nothing new and leeches...
written by Genie, March 21, 2009
I do not know why they are making such a fuss about this since the use of maggots is nothing new.

Also note that doctors commonly use leeches when dealing with such things as re-attached fingers, etc... The (medical grade farmed) leeches do a good job of draining blood from the re-attached area until the body has time to heal itself and reconnect the blood vessels. This allows fresh blood to enter the healing area and removes the old blood therefore greatly decreasing recovery times and also greatly decreasing the risk of serious infections due to the buildup of stagnent blood. Also as an added benifit the leeches inject an blood thinner into their 'prey' (which allows them to suck the blood without it cloting) which helps improve blood flow in the affected area while the blood vessels heal. Worth noting is that last time I saw any news on this they were still trying to reproduce the chemical compound that the leeches inject into their prey since it outperformed the drugs that were currently available on the market.

As an added note I would like to say this is a perfect example of how there is no such thing as alternative medicine. In the past leeches were used as an alternative to blood letting with little or no proof of their effectivity. Modern medicine has dismissed the use of leeches as a form of treatment for most of its previous uses; however this one use has been found to be so cost effective with by far some of the best results that it is accepted and used in the medical community. Just because its weird, off the wall, and natural does not mean it is automatically alternative. If the scientific proof exists for its use in medicine as a viable and cost effective treatment it will be accepted by the medical community.

Just my two cents worth...
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +16
...
written by hamradioguy, March 21, 2009
Civil War buffs will tell you that in many cases of serious battlefield injuries those left behind and who involuntarily experienced "maggot therapy" fared better than those who were quickly removed to a field hospital.

True enough (discounting many who died because they didn't get any medical attention). But that was then (Civil War field hospitals weren't the most sanitary places) and this is now. Given the option of maggots or hydrogel I'll take the more current medical treatment thank you.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +4
...
written by José, March 21, 2009
But how do maggots and hydrogel stack up against ravenous chihuahua therapy?
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +4
...
written by Bruno, March 21, 2009
I wouldn't want to receive maggot therapy in a context where healthcare is limited because (as madscientist points out) the maggots used in this therapy have to be specially bred to be free from infections. "Just any maggots", even of the right species, might well make matters worse.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by MadScientist, March 21, 2009
@Jose: would *you* let a chihuahua near you?
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by BillyJoe, March 22, 2009
My pet chook got a wound on its neck which became infested with maggots. I left them alone because I had already heard about maggot therapy. In the morning it was dead.

smilies/cool.gif

BJ
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by tctheunbeliever, March 23, 2009
Those weren't maggots, they were chookacabras larvae. Again, you can't use "just any maggots".
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by latsot, March 23, 2009
Some stuff on the differences in reporting this story:

http://doctorsfromthefuture.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/times-misreports-maggot-therapy-research/
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
Ugh
written by PsyberDave, March 23, 2009
I like to look at Web articles while I eat lunch. But, I'd like to say this article was a particularly poor choice for me. I'm feeling a bit green around the gills now. The fact that I am eating rice just does not help at all. I may need to lay down. smilies/cry.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by BillyJoe, March 23, 2009
Where I read it first the headline was "Maggots have it over hydrogel" or something like that, but the final paragraph said something along the lines of "there is nothing to recommend maggots over the hydrogel". This mismatch between the headline and the content is pretty common in the media.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by pxatkins, March 24, 2009
This is a good illustration of something we skeptics are often pilloried over ... namely that we don't believe anything remotely out of the norm. Well, I'd say maggots and leeches are pretty bizarre therapy, but guess what? We tested them and they work. Science rules.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1

Write comment
This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy