Maggots may not have the miracle healing properties that have been claimed, a UK study suggests.
Researchers comparing maggots with a standard "hydrogel" in treating leg ulcers found little difference. Recent excitement over using maggots to speed up healing and even reduce MRSA infections in leg ulcers seems to have been premature, they said. The British Medical Journal study is the first to compare maggots with standard treatment.
Leg ulcers can be very difficult to treat and after use of high-compression bandages only about half are healed within 16 weeks. One common treatment is to use a water-based gel to keep the wound moist and promote the natural healing process. Maggots, or larval therapy, are another option - but it can be more tricky to place them in the wound and they have to be specially ordered which takes a few days.
The theory has been that maggots are effective because they "clean out" dead tissue - a process called debridement - stimulating healing and getting rid of bugs such as MRSA in the process. But although larval therapy is being used more and more, it has only been tested in one randomised controlled trial of 12 patients, the team said.