Pam Mitchell feels she owes her life, and certainly her limbs, to maggot debridement therapy (MDT). Pam is a chronic diabetic who developed ulcers on her right and left heels. The ulcer on her left heel was 2 inches in diameter and 1 inch deep with about one-half inch of exposed bone. The left heel eventually developed osteomyelitis which did not respond to IV antibiotics.
After 2 years of conventional wound treatment, her antibiotic treatments caused a severe bone marrow depression, resulting in life-threatening anemia. Doctors advised amputation and a bone marrow transplant. Luckily, a friend had seen a television program about the medical use of maggots and suggested she try them.
Pam broached the subject with her doctors. They said MDT wouldn't work, but Pam was persistent. A dermatologist who had used maggots was consulted, and Pam was able to convince him to try MDT. However, Pam's hospital administration would not, at that time, allow her to have maggot treatment in the hospital. Apparently, there was no procedure code for it.
Undeterred, Pam left the hospital and went to the dermatologist's office for application of the maggots. The doctor put 300 maggots into the wound on the right foot and 600 in the left and used panty hose to secure the maggots. The treatment lasted 48 hours. At first, the maggots started to die, and Pam was advised to keep the gauze over them damp, wetting it with water every 4 hours, so they wouldn't dry out, and that worked. When Pam started to see blood on the dressing instead of purulent material, she knew that the treatment was working. When the doctor removed the first application of maggots, he was amazed at the improvement in the wound.
Pam had 10 applications, once every week or two. With each treatment, the wound healed more. About halfway through the treatment, the osteomyelitis cleared up and Pam was able to discontinue the antibiotics, and her bone marrow started to regenerate.
Speaking fondly about the maggots, Pam said, I couldn't really feel them at all at first, because I don't have much feeling in my feet, but after they worked for awhile, I could kind of feel them moving about and it hurt a little, like they hit a nerve. Pam remarked that she had tunneling in her left heel, but the maggots healed that too. The wounds continued to improve steadily until they were completely healed.
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