What Is Maggot Therapy?


Quick Answer

Maggot therapy is the use of maggots to treat complex wounds, according to experts from the Department of Medical Entomology at the University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital in Australia. During this type of therapy, disinfected maggots are placed in wounds that are not healing properly. Maggots trigger the healing process by eating dead tissue.

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Full Answer

Researchers from the University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital explain that maggot therapy was first used in the 1930s and 1940s, but it was discontinued due to the introduction of modern surgical techniques and the use of antibiotics to treat wounds. In the 1980s, Dr. Ronald Sherman and his team reintroduced the use of maggot therapy in a medical setting. Sherman, a doctor at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in California, decided to use maggot therapy to treat wounds that would not respond to antibiotics. He conducted several clinical trials to determine if maggot therapy was as effective as antibiotic therapy. He found that using maggots to treat non-healing wounds was actually more effective than using other non-surgical treatments.

Medical maggots are placed into packages resembling tea bags to prevent them from maturing into flies. Once the maggots start eating away at the dead tissue inside a wound, they secrete a substance that helps fight infectious organisms. The Food and Drug Administration approved maggots as a valid medical device in 2004, according to Carrie Arnold of "Scientific American."

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