"Twenty years ago, maggot therapy was performed mostly as a 'last resort' prior to amputation," for the treatment of non-healing wounds, explained Dr. Ronald A. Sherman, a "biotherapeutics" researcher at the University of California, Irvine, and the Los Angeles and Orange County health departments.
was not involved in the new study.
noted that past studies found that when used as a last resort (after antibiotics and surgery failed), maggot therapy eliminated the need for amputations in an estimated 40 to 60 percent of cases.
The treatment has gained ever-broader acceptance in recent years, with studies touting its safety record and effectiveness in less severe, non-emergency situations.
"(This) is one of those studies, and clearly supports those who include maggot therapy as part of their wound-care tool bag," Sherman
said, by suggesting "that there is no reason to delay maggot therapy until the wound and underlying diseases have progressed."
Sherman, also director of the BioTherapeutics, Education & Research Foundation in Irvine, Calif., called the study "well-conceived" and "well-executed."
It "demonstrated that maggot therapy is safe and at least equally effective to conventional surgical wound care," he
"This is not a new finding, but their study is very important because it adds to our limited database on maggot therapy."
also noted that more aspects of maggot therapy remain to be explored, such as the potential for so-called "free-range maggot therapy" in which bag-less larvae are placed in direct contact with the wound.
"While this is a powerful testament to the potency of the maggots' therapeutic secretions, we are still left wondering whether or not free-range maggots might have done any better," he
But this, he
noted, awaits further study.
SOURCES: Ronald A. Sherman, M.D., director, BioTherapeutics, Education & Research Foundation, co-founder and laboratory director, Monarch Labs, and researcher, University of California, Irvine and the Los Angeles and Orange County health departments, Irvine, Calif.; Dec. 19, 2011 (online), Archives of Dermatology