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Maggot Debridement Therapy - Importance of Maggot Medicine

Updated on September 7, 2011

Maggot Debridement Therapy (MDT) is the intentional use of Maggots - especially the sterile green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata) maggots - to manage wounds (especially Wounds considered to be non-healing). This kind of treatment was known to be used by the Australian Aborigines and Maya Indians before it became popular in battlefields, and was soon replaced by conventional surgery and the use of Antimicrobial substances.

Magnified view of a Maggot

House Fly Maggot
House Fly Maggot

How Maggots treat Wounds

Hungry Maggots feed on dead animal tissues. But the tissues must be broken down to a product that can be ingested by the "baby flies", hence they secret powerful proteolytic Enzymes that employ the mechanism of proteolysis to break down and liquefy the tissues before Ingestion.

Breaking down all the dead tissues and feeding on them helps to clean the entire surface of the Wound. The secretion is also said to have some antimicrobial properties and stimulates the generation of Fibroblast Cells. Also, Maggots are known to ingest Bacteria from the wound and destroy them in their guts.

Advantages of Larvae Therapy

There are some medical conditions that sometimes defy all possible modern medical treatment. Certain Antibiotic resistant-wounds that falls within this ambit are successfully treated by the application of Maggots. Maggot Biosurgery is regarded as faster by virtue of shorter recovery period compared to conventional medical treatment.

Also, it is applicable to both Human and Veterinary. Here, the treatment is cheaper, faster, and could be applied by individuals under the guidance of a professional medical handler. It is also advantageous in surgical wound therapy such as in Amputation, before skin grafting, negative pressure wound therapy, etc.

Video: Maggot Therapy Dressings

Larva Therapy and African Taboo

Larval (also Larva) Therapy could become a powerful tool in the hands of African medical practitioners. It will not only influence its medicine, but some customs and Taboos. Here, some rural dwellers are known to be afflicted with large wounds that sometimes persist in years. These types of Wounds are easily attributable to the influence of Witchcraft.

Infected wounds that might have resulted from untreated Burns, Leg Ulcers and Diabetic foot ulcers are the most popularly believed supernatural Afflictions due to their usually large sizes and persistence.Victims are mostly poor and might face rejection due to an aversion for the offensive odours coming from the pus formed by the wound. Fortunately, it is these types of Wounds that Maggot Debridement Therapy is reserved for. The Complications that are developed largely due to poverty could be resolved by the simple fact that Maggot Therapy is cost effective compared to the status quo.

Side Effects of Biotherapy

The most important side effect that are associated with Debridement are accompanying bad Odours and Pains. Although Maggots do not attack living tissues, change in PH due to Alkalinization of wound beds could result to substantial amount of Pains. But the pains could be controlled by simply using Analgesics, otherwise it is advisable to discontinue the Treatment. Odours could result from Pus or from gases formed and accumulates due to the covering. Control of odour in this case is by cleaning the wound and changing the dressings within every two to three days.


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    • James Agbogun profile image

      James Agbogun 5 years ago

      Thank you uche_n2a. Your comment is a great addition to the content of this Article. I learnt to love contributions from comments when a Google search directed me to one of the comments made in an Article.

    • James Agbogun profile image

      James Agbogun 5 years ago

      Sneha, actually it's not easy identifying with Maggots, except that we have found some uses for them. I thank you for also making a comment here.

    • James Agbogun profile image

      James Agbogun 5 years ago

      DRidge, hahaha! I tried to make it as attractive as possible. Thanks for expressing it here.

    • uche_n2a profile image

      uche_n2a 5 years ago from UK

      I have watched something like this. Its about using the maggot to eat off dead cells on the affected area, bla bla blah. It's interesting and effective according to the documentary. Good write though James.

    • Sneha Sunny profile image

      Sneha Sunny 5 years ago from India

      well, that was interesting and useful.... but honestly, maggots are the only form of insect which I hate....

    • DRidge profile image

      DRidge 5 years ago from Gulf Coast, MS

      Yuck, but interesting.

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