Clinical applications for maggots in wound care

Am J Clin Dermatol. 2001;2(4):219-27. doi: 10.2165/00128071-200102040-00003.


Maggot debridement therapy (MDT) was first introduced in the US in 1931 and was routinely used there until mid-1940s in over 300 hospitals. With the advent of antibacterials, maggot therapy became rare until the early 1990s, when it was re-introduced first in the US, and later in Israel, the UK, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and Thailand. Sterile maggots of the green bottle fly, Lucilia (Phaenicia) sericata, are used for MDT. Up to 1000 maggots are introduced in the wound and left for 1 to 3 days. MDT could be used for any kind of purulent, sloughy wound on the skin, independent of the underlying diseases or the location on the body for ambulatory as well as for hospitalized patients. One of the major advantages of MDT is that the maggots separate the necrotic tissue from the living tissue, making a surgical debridement easier. In 80 to 95% of the cases, a complete or significant debridement of the wound is achieved. As therapy progresses, new layers of healthy tissue are formed over the wounds. The offensive odor emanating from the necrotic tissue and the intense pain accompanying the wound decrease significantly. In a significant number of patients, an immediate amputation can be prevented as a result of MDT. In other cases, a more proximal amputation could be avoided. It is also possible that in patients with deep wounds, where septicemia is a serious threat, this can be prevented as a result of MDT. The majority of patients do not complain of any major discomfort during the treatment. Psychological and esthetic considerations are obvious. Maggots can occasionally cause a tickling or itching sensation. Approximately 20 to 25% of the patients with superficial, painful wounds, complain of increased pain during treatment with maggots, and are treated with analgesics. MDT has been proven to be an effective method for cleaning chronic wounds and initiating granulation. It is a simple, efficient, well tolerated and cost-effective tool for the treatment of wounds and ulcers, which do not respond to conventional treatment and surgical intervention.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Bandages
  • Chronic Disease
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Debridement*
  • Diabetic Foot / therapy
  • Diptera
  • Foot Ulcer / therapy
  • Forecasting
  • Granulation Tissue
  • Humans
  • Larva*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Skin Transplantation
  • Suppuration
  • Time Factors
  • Wound Healing*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*