Medical Maggots

Everybody gets hurt sometimes, at least once in your life you might have scraped your knee or fallen on the pavement. When this happens, you probably thought to put on a bandaid or some neosporin. If the wound is deep you may take it to the doctor for them to check up on and make sure it is not infected. There are many modern day techniques to help with this type of wound, but some are coming back from a long time ago. For instance, Dr. Kosta Mumculglu, who is a parasitologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, works with medical maggots everyday. He has used medical maggots on over 3,000 patients.  

In the 1930s and 1940s during World War II, medical maggots were first experimented with. Maggots had become a wound healing technique as a result of experiments done by military doctors. The maggots used in medicine were the larvae of shiny bottle-green blowflies because these flies are known to eat dead tissues. During this time, thousands of surgeons used medical maggots on their patients. 

Medical Maggots being purchased as a treatment for open wounds

Many thought maggots would increase the infection and therefore worsen the wound, but when medical maggots were used on the wound, they instead ate the dead and infected tissue. There will be no infection because the maggots eat all the infected tissue away. Many are skeptical about medical maggots because the maggots themselves are dirty. However, maggots are now kept in sterile clinics and specialized labs to keep from getting soiled.

The shocking truth is that maggots do not have teeth, which leads many to wonder: how can they eat the dead tissue with no teeth? Maggots secrete digestive enzymes while eating the tissue and can swallow their food effortlessly. Scientists have also found that the medical maggots’ digestive enzymes can kill different types of bacteria. Medical maggots are not as big as you would expect, they are usually anywhere from 2mm to 10mm long. For size comparison, a maggot is smaller than a grain of rice.  

Medical maggots are used when applied to the wound directly or in sealed net bags. Maggots will eat all the dead and infected tissue from the wound in two to three days. The wound will not only look better but it’s proven to hurt less than some more modern methods and successfully stop infection. Although the medical maggots eat the dead and infected tissue, the good tissue is left completely unharmed and unscratched. Using medical maggots actually cleans the wound more than you would expect. Once the dead and infected tissue are removed, the wound is more likely to heal completely. Medical maggots encourage open and deep wounds to heal.

In addition to eating all the dead and infected tissue away, the medical maggots can quicken the healing process for wounds. The components found in the secretion the maggots use to eat causes the cells to multiply which is vital for healing and making new tissue.    

Medical maggots are not only used on humans; many people use this technique on animals too. Medical maggots are used on horses and small animals to heal their infections and wounds.  

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