Please don't puke. Not yet, at least!
I have a pretty strong stomach but even this subject matter made me a little queasy. I had to write this post using "----" instead of maggot. By the end of writing it, I got over it. Hopefully you will too.
Maggot Debridement Therapy, or MDT, is a biotherapy that involves live, disinfected fly larvae placed in a non-healing wound or ulcer.
MBD has been around since ancient times. It was used by the Mayans, the Aborigine in Australia, and was noted during the Napoleonic wars and the Civil war that certain wounds covered with maggots tended to heal better and the patients died less often.
How does it work?
Apparently, the larvae exude a substance that helps to dissolve dead and dying tissues. The maggots then absorb and ingest the liquified substance and end up cleaning out the wound. The healthy tissue is, for the most part, unaffected. Some believe that MDT is even more effective at cleaning this type of wound that a surgeon could.
What about infection?
There's an automatic reaction to think that maggots are "dirty" and would cause more, not less, infection. The truth is that dead tissue is the perfect medium for bacteria to grow. By removing this medium, they actually lessen the chance of infection. Furthermore, maggots exude chemicals that kill bacteria and have a wide-range of bacteria killing activity, even against resistant bacteria like MRSA.
Er...what about the yuck factor?
Maggots can be concealed in a special covering to hide them. They will not lay eggs or multiply in the wound, as they are only larvae, not adult flies. Also, the dressings are designed to let the larvae breath and reduce the tickling sensation of them crawling all over. Er, yuck.
Is this legal?
MDT was FDA approved in 2004 as a prescription-only medical device.
What about in fictional scenarios?
Remember the movie Gladiator, with Russel Crowe? MDT was used on his shoulder wound.
In Diana Gabalson's Outlander series, there's a physician that uses MDT. Neat, huh?
Okay. Sorry to totally gross you out!