Maggot Therapy for Gangrene and Osteomyelitis
K.Y. Mumcuoglu, M. Lipo, I. Ioffe-Uspensky, J. Miller, R. Galun
Dept. of Parasitology, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem
5 patients with diabetic-foot were treated by maggot therapy. The most serious case was in a 75-year-old man who had gangrene and osteomyelitis of the right foot. Proteus mirabilis, Enterococcus sp., Providencia stuartii and Staphylococcus spec. (coagulase positive) were isolated from lesions which did not respond to antibiotic therapy. The patient had twice refused amputation but agreed to maggot therapy. Larvae of the sheep blowfly Phoenicia (Lucilia) sericata were used for twice-weekly treatment over a period of 7 months. Sterile larvae were applied to the wound and replaced every 3-4 days. After 4 months of treatment, the necrotic tissue around the toes and on the sole of the foot detached from the healthy tissue. During the last 3 months of treatment the larvae removed the remaining infected tissue. As therapy progressed, new layers of healthy tissue covered the wound. The offensive odor associated with the necrotic tissue and the intense pain in the foot decreased significantly. At the end of therapy, during which there were no complaints of discomfort, he was able to walk. In the 4 other patients who had relatively superficial gangrene, the maggots debrided the wounds within 2-4 weeks. Thereafter treatment was continued with antibiotics. Maggot therapy can be recommended in cases of intractable gangrene and osteomyelitis, when treatment with antibiotics and surgical debridement have failed.