Introduction to Medical Maggots

Many people have encountered maggots in the garbage; it's a rare person who doesn't experience revulsion at the sight. That said, who would have guessed that the FDA would approve the use of maggots for wound debridement or that they would actually gain acceptance?

History and small sample studies indicate that in the right circumstances, maggots are not only as good as conventional therapies, they're often better. Treatments are frequently much shorter, better tolerated and very much less expensive than conventional treatment.

Maggots clean wounds by consuming dead and infected tissue. In addition, they help disinfect the wounds and stimulate the growth of healthy tissue. According to Dr. Ronald Sherman, an assistant professor of medicine and pathology at the University of California, Irvine, "There is no single other product on the market that can do all those actions simultaneously.” Dr. Sherman has almost single-handedly brought the maggot from obscurity to cutting edge medicine. Sherman grows maggots for medical use and is now producing enough larvae each week to treat 30 to 40 patients.

Interest in maggot debridement therapy (MDT) is growing steadily. In Europe, where maggot therapy is more popular, an estimated 30,000 treatments occur each year. A typical treatment may require hundreds of maggots. At Sherman's nonprofit maggot nursery, 250 to 500 larvae cost only about $70 - a bargain in today's world of medicine.


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