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Maggots as Good as Regular Leg Ulcer Treatment

Maggots as Good as Regular Leg Ulcer Treatment

Maria Cheng / AP

March 19, 2009

LONDON – In a study testing treatments for leg ulcers, British doctors found that a surprising, yet perhaps revolting, option works just as well as standard treatment: maggots.

If that sounds like a step backward, it’s probably because Europeans first began using maggots to treat wounds about 700 years ago.

Researchers at the University of York studied 267 patients with leg ulcers in the United Kingdom from 2004 to 2007. Patients were either treated with a gel commonly used for ulcers or with maggots.

The maggots were bred in sterile conditions and were about the size of a grain of rice. The insects were either packed into a teabag-sized packet or corralled into the wound with bandages.

Patients who got the maggots healed just as quickly as those who got the gel, but suffered a little more pain in the process. The research, along with another study that said maggots were as cost-effective as the gel, was published Friday in the BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal.

“Maggots definitely work, but this is not the standard of care in any developed country,” said Dr. Harold Brem, a wound expert at New York University Langone Medical Center. Brem was not connected to either BMJ study.

“If you are out in a remote place and don’t have access to a surgeon or good medical care, then maybe maggots are an option,” Brem said.

British doctors found the maggots ate up dead tissue quicker than the gel, though that didn’t speed up the healing. There were similar rates of side effects in both treatments, affecting about 14 percent of patients.

But those who used maggots reported more pain.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 5 years ago



  • Picture_021_max50


    about 5 years ago


    Maggots! God has a use for everything doesnt he? Great article.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    about 5 years ago


    I have heard of this but never actually seen it used, yuk! But if it works great

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    about 5 years ago

    It works and very well. Used it back in the late 70's. This isn't anything new, it's just they're actually going back to basics, rather than use antibiotics for everything. None of the patients I had ever complained about it hurting. They all said the dressing changes were far more painful than the maggots.

  • J0423100_max50


    about 5 years ago


    I guess that's on the same page as using leeches to "bleed" pt's and a breed of small carp to eat the dead skin off of your feet during a pedicure.

  • 244_max50


    about 5 years ago


    That's so nasty, but I guess if it works? I dont know. hopefully i will never have a leg uncler becuase I would refuse!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    about 5 years ago


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