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Medical News & Perspectives |

Tiny "Surgeons" Prove Surprisingly Effective

Michael Fitzpatrick
JAMA. 2000;284(18):2306-2307. doi:10.1001/jama.284.18.2306-JMN1108-2-1.
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Cumbria, Wales—A team from the vascular unit at West Cumberland hospital here claims to have achieved excellent results using live maggots—euphemistically known as larval therapy—to treat leg ulcers.

In a bid to prove to their National Health Service managers that their purchase of maggots was justifiable, vascular surgeon Michael Walker, MD, and Anne Walker, RCN, a specialist in treating leg ulcers (not related to Michael), conducted a pilot study of 12 patients with necrotic leg ulcers (J Tissue Viability. 2000;10:91-94). Half were treated with conventional hydrogel therapy and the other half with application of maggots.

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Phaenicia sericata eggs and larvae on sheep blood agar culture plate. These maggots are used for larval therapy in many countries. (Photo credit: Ronald A. Sherman, MD)

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