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"The Yuck Factor"

What's old is new again is the news from Neodesha's Center for Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine. Although Maggot Therapy has been around since the 1930s, it is now being used in treating non-healing wounds. Following the advent of antibiotics its use significantly decreased. Now with antibiotic resistant bacteria becoming more prevalent, the use of maggots is again being utilized widely in wound centers around the world.

When used in a hospital or outpatient clinic setting, medical maggots are proving to be very useful in cleaning up dead and dying tissue. When placed into a non-healing wound they secrete an enzyme that liquefies bacteria, which the maggots then ingest along with the dead tissue. They do no damage to healthy tissue, something that many of our current treatments-- including surgery-- cannot claim. Only sterile green blowfly maggots specifically grown in laboratories are used.

Patients who have had their wounds treated with maggots report no pain and very little other sensations during the course of therapy. The maggots are contained within a dressing specifically designed to allow them to do their job and to stay put within the wound. They are then left in place two-three days. After that time they are removed, discarded into a hazardous waste container with the bandage and the wound is dressed with another bandage.

Dr. Bert Chronister, a Wilson Medical Center physician with advanced wound care training, is pleased the Center for Wound Care will soon begin offering this treatment as one form of therapy. He notes, "Internationally, treatment with the tiny larvae is well documented in many medical journals. Now we can not only provide the most advance high-tech treatments including hyperbaric oxygen therapy and the use of vacuum-assisted closure devices, but also one of the oldest known wound care therapies. Although, maggots are not high-tech they certainly are effective."

Wound centers currently using this therapy report excellent results, and have found patients to be less squeamish than staff members. When faced with the possibility of losing a foot or leg, this therapy provides patients with another option. Diana Cunningham, RN, CWSÒ and Neodesha's Program Director says, "We know we have patients whose wounds would benefit from this type of treatment. We just need to help our patients and our staff get past that initial "yuck!" period."