Biosurgery and Biotherapy: The Use of Live Organisms in Medicine
A Brief Introduction
Biosurgery has two rather different meanings in the field of medicine. One meaning connotes the use of biomaterials used in regenerating damaged joints or bone repair. The other refers to the use of live organisms to clean and disinfect wounds and to cure severe skin damage to avoid amputation. This is called maggot debridement therapy (MDT).
Biotherapy also refers to different uses in the field of medicine. One of the most recognized uses of biotherapy connotes the practice of strengthening the human body for it to combat various serious diseases like polio, cancer and tumors. This concept, also called immunotherapy, uses vaccines and injections to perform the procedure. Another meaning is the use of live organisms to heal venous congestion and to help improve blood flow. This is called leech therapy (hirudotherapy).
The Use of Live Organisms in Medicine
This hub however will only focus on the use of live organisms in medicine, particularly maggots and leeches.
Though not practiced universally, patients who undergo MDT vouch for its effectiveness in healing wounds. Non-healing wounds and sores may become the cause of amputation on the affected part. MDT is usually the last resort of patients and doctors to save a limb and avoid amputation. While maggots are not ‘clean’ species, they do help in cleaning wounds and regenerating skin tissues.
Read more about MDT in The Use of Maggots in Medicine.
Likewise, leeches are not adorable organisms. In fact, there are dangers you have to face when you encounter leeches. And many of us wouldn’t want to go near them because we are aware of the dangers they might cause. However, leeches have proved to be useful in modern medicine. Some of what doctors cannot do, leeches can do. Leeches are mainly used in reattaching severed limbs. While doctors can sew a limb back to its place, they cannot restore venous congestion (congestion of blood in the veins). Leeches are therefore used in restoring blood flow on the severed limb for it to become ‘alive’ again. Aside from this, leeches are used in improving blood circulation of the body. Doctors are using leech therapy in some serious and not so serious diseases. Hypertension, stroke, varicose veins, and bruising are just some of the diseases that can make use of leech therapy.
Read more about leech therapy in The Use of Leeches in Medicine.