A Maggot Can Save Your Life

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In the diabetic foot, wounds quickly become a problem as they fail to heal and often can become a life-threatening infection. What methods would you be willing to undergo to prevent amputation or an infection that could put you in the hospital or even the grave? Many unconventional treatments are appearing to help save lives and heal wounds. Recent advances include silver dressings, honey and even maggots.

Would you be willing to undergo maggot therapy to heal your wound? In a recent article I found on Syracuse.com, Linda Franks talks about treating her wound with maggot therapy and saving her leg and her life. Although the process took two years, the heel wound has healed and the infected bone has healed and new skin has developed. She has even stopped her wheelchair and is walking on her own.

Let's discuss this treatment. For many years, maggot therapy has been utilized. In ancient times they were utilized to clean wounds. Even before that time, the earth has utilized the maggot to remove dead, infected tissues. This is the basic technology utilized to help heal these wounds, as it ensures dead and infected tissues are removed without damage to healthy tissues. It was started as a technology in 1930s when maggots were produced commercially. Although it fell out of favor for years, it has returned as an option when all else fails and when doctor and patient are willing to give it a try.

What other treatments should be tried first? Antibiotics; Wound care treatments that include aggressive removal of dead tissue (debridement); Strict diabetic blood sugar control; Removal of habits such as smoking; Offweighting the area (i.e. no pressure to the wound); Advanced wound care modalities; Bypass surgeries; Hyperbaric oxygen. Any and all these can be utilized, but if they fail, would you be willing to try maggots?

Maggot therapy has been proven to be effective and improve wounds when other treatments fail. Now this isn't your neighborhood fly maggot, nor can you place your own maggots on your wound. Commercial, "sterile" maggots have been developed for this purpose. Utilizing pain medication, they are applied and allowed to work on a wound. The maggots are then removed a day or two after starting and disposed of. This is not a single treatment, but often requires many cycles of treatment but provide an option for the stubborn, nonhealing wounds.

I have seen the work of maggots and have seen great improvements in wounds through their therapy. One patient even had her life protected after days of an infected wound treated with maggots kept the infectious spread from other areas and additional bone damage. Is maggot therapy the first treatment people should undergo? No. Should it be considered? Absolutely. As we continue to search out new treatments to speed the healing of diabetic wounds, no successful treatment should be discounted or ignored. If you can handle this therapy, it may save your foot and may even save your life.

Copyright (c) 2008 Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute

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