Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Diabetes Health Center

Font Size

Healing Wounds With Maggots

Maggots Can Be Useful for Treating Deep Wounds

WebMD Health News

Sept. 20, 2004 -- Chances are if you found maggots chowing down on a wound, you'd make a beeline to the closest hospital. But, it might surprise you to find the little buggers may be just what the doctor ordered.

New research published in the October issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases has found that maggots are useful in treating deep wounds without increasing the risk of further infection. Maggots work because they eat dead tissue (debridement) within the wound, which can promote infection. This treatment seems to help reduce the risk of infection after surgery because the larvae are thought to secrete substances that fight infection.

Old Remedy Gets New Look

Maggot debridement therapy (MDT) has been around since the 1920s as a treatment for bone and tissue infections, but a new wave of studies demonstrating its safety and benefits have prompted a surge of popularity.

MDT uses "sterile" larvae, Phaenica sericata, which are placed on a person's wound twice a week and left there for 48 to 72 hours. The maggots only eat dead tissue, leaving live tissue intact.

There is some concern that disinfected larvae may cause or worsen a pre-existing infection in a wound.

Researchers Ronald A. Sherman and Kathleen J. Shimoda looked at the issue. Their study looked at whether maggot therapy given prior to surgical treatment of wounds would increase infection rates after surgery. They evaluated the safety and effectiveness of MDT performed on 143 patients between 1990 and 1995.

Their study shows that wounds debrided with maggots prior to surgery were less likely to develop an infection after surgery compared with wounds not treated with MDT.

Researchers looked at 25 wounds, 10 treated with maggot debridement therapy. None of the 10 wounds treated with MDT before surgery became infected. Almost a third (six out of 19) of the wounds not treated with MDT before surgery developed an infection after surgery. The surgical closure of these wounds also fell apart.

"Presurgical MDT effectively prepared the wound bed for surgical closure, without increased risk of post-surgical wound infection," the co-authors conclude in their report.

Pain at the wound site was the most common side effect.

Is This Normal? Get the Facts Fast!

Check Your Blood Sugar Level Now
What type of diabetes do you have?
Your gender:

Get the latest Diabetes newsletter delivered to your inbox!


or
Answer:
Low
0-69
Normal
70-130
High
131+

Your level is currently

If the level is below 70 or you are experiencing symptoms such as shaking, sweating or difficulty thinking, you will need to raise the number immediately. A quick solution is to eat a few pieces of hard candy or 1 tablespoon of sugar or honey. Recheck your numbers again in 15 minutes to see if the number has gone up. If not, repeat the steps above or call your doctor.

People who experience hypoglycemia several times in a week should call their health care provider. It's important to monitor your levels each day so you can make sure your numbers are within the range. If you are pregnant always consult with your health care provider.

Congratulations on taking steps to manage your health.

However, it's important to continue to track your numbers so that you can make lifestyle changes if needed. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Your level is high if this reading was taken before eating. Aim for 70-130 before meals and less than 180 two hours after meals.

Even if your number is high, it's not too late for you to take control of your health and lower your blood sugar.

One of the first steps is to monitor your levels each day. If you are pregnant always consult with your physician.

Did You Know Your Lifestyle Choices
Affect Your Blood Sugar?

Use the Blood Glucose Tracker to monitor
how well you manage your blood sugar over time.

Get Started

This tool is not intended for women who are pregnant.

Start Over

Step:  of 

Today on WebMD

Diabetic tools
Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and more.
woman flexing muscles
10 strength training exercises.
 
Blood sugar test
12 practical tips.
Tom Hanks
Stars living with type 1 or type 2.
 
Woman serving fast food from window
Video
Can Vinegar Treat Diabetes
Video
 
Middle aged person
Tool
are battery operated toothbrushes really better
Video
 

Prediabetes How to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Article
type 2 diabetes
Slideshow
 
food fitness planner
Tool
Are You at Risk for Dupuytrens Contracture
Article