MAGGOTTS AS HEROES

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Article by
Virginia Beach Dermatologist

Those who remember the Dirty Dozen can recall one of the greatest drawn cinema characters ever, the misogynistic psychopath, Archer Maggott. Maggott was sprung from prison and placed in a position to become a hero. His own pathologic attitude toward women got in the way and he was gunned down in the crucial battle scene. 

Now we have a different sort of maggot, who seem to be turning out to be heroic figures: fly larvae. Yes, the same fly larvae, that shows up with great frequency in that other film genre: horror films.

Maggot debridement of wounds proved significantly more rapid, less painful and less labor intensive than conventional surgical debridement. Debridement is the removal of dead or dying tissue to allow normal tissue to heal.

Dr. Kristina Opletalova led a multicenter, randomized clinical trial and was amazed by the result. After only seven days of maggot therapy there was a tremendous debridement. The doctors studied patients with slowly or poorly healing venous ulcers.

The maggots were placed in a unique delivery system known as a Vitapad, which allowed the critters to move and feed on the wound without escaping.

My friend Dr. Helmut Tilsch, who attended the presentation at the annual Congress of the European Academy of Dermatology was very impressed with the rapidity of the maggot therapy. It will be very useful for those needing quick debridement, such as patient with diabetes, or to prepare a wound for skin grafting. There will even be giant cost savings as the maggots work for free.