Maggot Therapy for Treating Diabetic Foot Ulcers Unresponsive to Conventional Therapy

  1. Ronald A. Sherman, MD, MSC
  1. From the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Long Beach, California and the Department of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, California


    OBJECTIVE—To assess the efficacy of maggot therapy for treating foot and leg ulcers in diabetic patients failing conventional therapy.

    RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS—Retrospective comparison of changes in necrotic and total surface area of chronic wounds treated with either maggot therapy or standard (control) surgical or nonsurgical therapy.

    RESULTS—In this cohort of 18 patients with 20 nonhealing ulcers, six wounds were treated with conventional therapy, six with maggot therapy, and eight with conventional therapy first, then maggot therapy. Repeated measures ANOVA indicated no significant change in necrotic tissue, except when factoring for treatment (F [1.7, 34] = 5.27, P = 0.013). During the first 14 days of conventional therapy, there was no significant debridement of necrotic tissue; during the same period with maggot therapy, necrotic tissue decreased by an average of 4.1 cm2 (P = 0.02). After 5 weeks of therapy, conventionally treated wounds were still covered with necrotic tissue over 33% of their surface, whereas after only 4 weeks of therapy maggot-treated wounds were completely debrided (P = 0.001). Maggot therapy was also associated with hastened growth of granulation tissue and greater wound healing rates.

    CONCLUSIONS—Maggot therapy was more effective and efficient in debriding nonhealing foot and leg ulcers in male diabetic veterans than was continued conventional care.


    • Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Ronald A. Sherman, Department of Pathology, Medical Sciences Bldg, Room D-440, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-4800. E-mail: rsherman{at}

      Received for publication 14 January 2002 and accepted in revised form 1 November 2002.

      A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

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