Two Cox Medical Center Branson patients have gone home with maggots so far this year and and Dr. Robert Dorsey expects more could be in the future.
Dorsey, medical director of wound care and hyperbaric medicine at Cox, used maggot debridement therapy for years while working in Kansas, but for the first time since he came to Branson a year ago, he is using the therapy to treat patients here.
“Some (patients) go ‘Oh yuck, are you kidding me?’ and some say ‘sure,’” Dorsey said.
Media Relations Specialist Michelle Leroux said the Branson Cox facility is the first that she could find in the area, including Springfield hospitals, that uses maggot debridement therapy.
Maggot debridement therapy is the medical uses of live maggots, or fly larvae, for treating non-healing wounds. In maggot therapy, disinfected fly larvae are applied to the wounds for two to three days with a special dressing to keep the maggots from migrating.
The maggots clean the wounds by dissolving dead and infected tissue, disinfect the wound and kill bacteria and they speed the rate of healing.
Dorsey treated his first patient in Branson with maggot therapy last week and treated another this week.
He said both of the patients were not candidates for hyperbaric medicine, which is the medical use of oxygen at a higher level than atmospheric pressure to promote healing.
Maggot therapy, Dorsey said, was really the best option for both patients.
“Without it, their wounds wouldn’t heal as well and there would be the possibility of an amputation,” Dorsey said.
He said the maggots clean up a wound much better than he can.
“They only eat the dead tissue,” he said. “They really clean up a wound well.”
The maggots also promote quicker healing.
“The wounds will heal better without that decaying skin,” Leroux said. “That is what their purpose is, to bring blood supply to the surface and promote healing.”
Not everyone wants to know live maggots are feeding on them though, Dorsey said.
“It takes the right patient to do it,” he said.
He said the maggots don’t hurt, but he has had patients report they can feel the maggots moving on their wound.
“Sometimes the maggots get out of the dressing, but there is really no harm,” he said.
The maggots are ordered through a medical labs and Dorsey said they usually apply about 500 on a wound. Within days, the maggots, he said, are plump and their work is done.
“They do a good job,” he said. “They really do.”