The Checkup: Are Maggots Good Medicine?

A French research team recently found out.

• What would you do if a doctor came in with a bag of maggots and started applying them to your open wound? First I’d wonder what century it is—is it just me, or is there something inherently Medieval about the idea of using creepy crawlies for their healing properties?—then I’d ask for a new doctor. Patients enrolled in a recent study in France were subjected to the maggot treatment to see if the creatures, who secrete substances that liquefy dead tissue and further degrade it as they ingest it, could be helpful in cleaning large wounds; the hope was that they’d help speed recovery. What the researchers found, though, was that while the maggots helped initially in controlling dead tissue (after one week, the patients who received the maggot treatment had wounds covered in just 55 percent dead tissue, versus two-thirds coverage in patients who received traditional treatment), the gains vanished after two weeks and there was no difference in wound-healing time between the maggot- and non-maggot groups. So happy they investigated it, right? You can read more about the research here, but here’s a final takeaway nugget: maggots have been approved for clinical use in the US since 2004. *Shudder*

• More news from France: Officials there are deciding if they need to compel 30,000 women to remove defective breast implants, after suspicious reports of cancer among women with the implants have surfaced. The company that made the implants, Poly Implant Prothese (PIP), was shut down last year when authorities learned it was using a non-authorized gel that caused implants to rupture. It’s unknown how many women around the world may have the defective implants, but PIP was once a major implant producer—it made about 100,000 a year, ranking it third in the world for implant manufacture—and exported 80 percent of its products. Read more here.

• You know those baby changing tables in public restrooms, the ones that always appear, um, questionable when it comes to cleanliness. A team in the UK tested 100 of them recently to find out exactly what germs and substances lurk there, and found that 92 tested positive for cocaine residue. The team tested changing tables in malls, hospitals, police stations and—wait for it—churches. More here.