Larval therapy as a palliative treatment for severe arteriosclerotic gangrene on the feet

Clin Exp Dermatol. 2009 Dec;34(8):e683-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.2009.03405.x. Epub 2009 Jul 3.


Larval therapy (LT) is known to be a gentle and effective method for removing necrotic tissue and bacteria and reducing the accompanying unpleasant odour. Ischaemia has been considered a relative contraindication for LT. We report a patient with ischaemia treated with LT. Inguinal revascularization was performed on a 69-year-old man with critical limb ischaemia, diabetes mellitus, heart failure and end-stage renal disease. Areas of dry black malodorous gangrene remained on the distal areas of the feet after surgery and the patient's poor health did not allow any additional surgery. The patient was referred to the dermatology department for LT. Although patients are usually given this treatment as inpatients, the patient requested treatment at home. After the first LT, there was a marked reduction in odour. The gangrene needed repeated applications of larvae to remove the dead tissue. After eight treatments, the result was more positive than we had expected, with total lack of odour and initiation of healing. Larvae cannot penetrate eschar, thus free-range larvae were used because they can move beneath the hard necrotic tissue and dissolve it.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Arteriosclerosis / complications*
  • Debridement / methods*
  • Foot / blood supply
  • Foot Diseases / etiology
  • Foot Diseases / pathology
  • Foot Diseases / therapy*
  • Gangrene / therapy
  • Humans
  • Ischemia / complications*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / complications*
  • Larva
  • Male
  • Odorants
  • Palliative Care