Med Device Monday: Medical Maggots

Maggots! They probably don't conjure up warm and cozy feelings of safety and cleanliness. After all, calling someone a maggot isn't a compliment, and the maggots we're talking about today (housefly larvae), are sustained by dead flesh. Understandably, they're often associated with death, decay, and other socially taboo things we generally don't enjoy thinking about. But what if that script were flipped? Maggots only eat dead flesh, so aside from being ace recyclers, it also turns out they're great at wound debridement. By removing dead tissue, bacteria are cut off from their source of nutrients, and maggots' antibacterial saliva helps the wound to heal. 

All of which is to say: Did you know that maggots are an FDA classified medical device?

Medical maggots are sterile, and are specifically raised for wound treatment. Per the Monarch Labs 510(k) summary, "Maggot therapy is essentially a controlled wound myiasis (maggot infestation). The maggots macerate their food with their mouth hooks, release their digestive enzymes into the local environment, and ingest the liquefying and semi-solid tissue...Maggot therapy dressings contain the medical grade larvae on the wound during the period of debridement, and facilitate easy and controlled removal when the patient and therapist determine they have completed their work."

Another "Larval Therapy" manufacturer, BioMonde, states in their website, "Larvae are instinctively selective. They are precise, clean, quick and clinically effective."

Sounds like a medical device win.

This video from National Geographic does a solid job of showing how medical maggots are used: