Maggots may clean wounds faster than surgery

From Medical Xpress:

MaggotsFor thousands of years, people have used maggots to clean out wounds, particularly in battlefield situations when there were few other options. Use of maggots (fly larvae) virtually disappeared in the modern world though once antibiotics arrived on the scene, but that may change as a new study conducted by a team in France has shown that at least for some types of wounds, maggots may be the preferential form of treatment. The team, made up of doctors and researchers from various facilities in France, conducted a study with elderly male volunteers who had lower leg wounds or skin ulcers that weren’t healing well, and as they describe in their study published in Archives of Dermatology, the patients that were treated with maggots, fared better, at least in the first week, than did those treated with conventional surgical procedures.

In order to reproduce, flies lay their eggs in the carcasses of dead animals. The eggs develop into maggots which eventually grow into adults by eating the meat in which they exist. To accomplish this feat they secrete a substance into the dead tissue that helps to break it down first. The maggots then simply eat the result. When introduced into injured human flesh, the maggots perform the same trick, eating dead flesh while leaving healthy flesh alone, though not necessarily in the same fashion. In the wild, as anyone that has stumbled upon the carcass of a dead animal and found it literally crawling with the small rice looking knows, it’s a truly stomach retching sight. In a medical environment, on the other hand it can be a truly innocuous experience.

More here.