The use of maggot debridement therapy in the treatment of chronic wounds in hospitalised and ambulatory patients

J Wound Care. 2012 Feb;21(2):78, 80, 82-85. doi: 10.12968/jowc.2012.21.2.78.


Objective: To summarise our experience of the use of medicinal maggots for the debridement of necrotic chronic wounds and to try and identify prognostic factors for debridement success and associated pain.

Method: During the years 1996–2009, 723 wounds of 435 patients (180 females and 255 males) were treated with maggot debridement therapy (MDT) in 16 departments and units of the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, Israel. Overall, 261 patients were treated during hospitalisation, while 174 were treated as ambulatory patients. In 90.5% of the patients the wounds were located on the leg, but only 48.0% had diabetic foot ulcers. The wound duration range from one to 240 months (mean=8.9; median=4 months). Sterile maggots of the green bottle fly, Lucilia sericata, were used for MDT. In 90.6% of the cases, maggots were placed directly on the wound using a cage-like dressing and left for 24 hours, while in 9.4% of the patients maggots concealed in a tea-bag like polyvinyl netting were used. The concealed maggots were left on the wound for 2–3 days.

Results: The number of treatments was 1–48 (mean=2.98; median=2) and the duration of the treatment varied between one and 81 days (mean=4.65; median=3). In 357 patients (82.1%) complete debridement of the wound was achieved, while in 73 patients (16.8%) the debridement was partial and in five (1.1%) it was ineffective. Increased pain or discomfort during MDT were reported in 38% of the patients.

Conclusion: MDT is a very safe, simple and effective treatment modality for chronic wounds in ambulatory and hospitalised patients.

Declaration of interest: There were no external sources of funding for this study. The authors have no additional conflicts of interest to declare.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Chronic Disease
  • Debridement / methods*
  • Diabetic Foot / therapy
  • Diptera*
  • Female
  • Foot Ulcer / therapy
  • Humans
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Larva*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pressure Ulcer / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing*
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*