Friday, May 25, 2012

Veterinary Highlights: Maggot Debridement Therapy

This article on petMD generated many sounds of disgust and lead to a number of nightmares. However, this topic is very interesting to me. I am equally fascinated by debridement therapy as I am by the idea of helminthic therapy (which, sadly, presently doesn't seem available in veterinary medicine).

Everybody keeps calling for natural treatments, right? LOL

The use of maggots in medicine is neither a medieval torture or a new invention. Maggots are actually regulated by the FDA as medical devices. Maggots feed on dead tissue, effectively cleaning away tissue that is not healing and may be harboring harmful bacteria.

This is a process that is referred to as debridement.

Maggot debridement therapy is often used where other therapies have failed.

Image Wound Research
Is it a step backward for medicine? I actually find it quite enlightening. I think that accepting that it doesn't always have to be fancy shiny medical instruments that get the job done best is actually a step forward. (Not that I have anything against fancy shiny medical instruments.)

If you read the comments to the original article, you'll actually find some testimonials of people who have seen this work.

Never send a man to do a maggot's job.

Would I agree to use of this therapy for my dogs? No question. Would you?

Source article: Maggots: Thumbs Up or Down?


  1. Great article Jana! I was waiting for this from you! In all seriousness, I would use this therapy for my dogs, if needed. No matter how many nightmares it gave me:)

    1. You were waiting for this from me? LOL It is always a good idea to choose the tool that is best for the job. If it works, don't knock it, right? If nothing else, a medical instrument would never be capable of such level of discrimination between dead and healthy cells.

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  3. I see maggots all the time :)

    Mainly on wildlife and rabbits bottoms. I don't think my clients would go for maggot therapy. Plus these treatments are always a bit smellier and messy than the pictures would suggest, especially compared to a well selected wound dressing which would have healed in a similar time.

    Being the surgeon I am, I would have sutured that toe. The costs would have been similar or less and the eeewwwh factor far less :)

    Reminds me a little of honey therapy, which helps wounds heal a bit, but is similarly messy and the end result is not that much better than conventional treatments. Not enough to justify the mess and expense anyway.

    Just my opinions of course.

    1. Hi Dr. Chris, thank you for dropping by!

      I would go for a maggot therapy if it was the best option for my dogs, no hesitation. Of course, it seems to be used mainly where other therapies wouldn't/didn't do, I just wanted to use a photo that wasn't completely awful, so I chose this one as it looks quite moderate.

      It seems, that when infection is involved, maggots might be the way to go. For example, on the original article there was a comment from a person who's husband got maggot therapy in the process of treating flesh eating bacteria infection.