Contributor: Karen Gierszewski and Dan Brown
The term medical device is a pretty broad term, encompassing everything from MRI machines, to coronary stents, to hip implants. You probably didn't realize though that leeches and maggots are also qualified by the FDA as a medical device. Gross right?
I was pretty appalled to find out that in recent years, maggots have actually made a comeback as a cost-effective treatment for serious wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcers. While I strongly recommend against doing a Google Image search on the subject, maggot debridement therapy (MDT) is used by a handful of physicians. Apparently, the maggots can be effective at removing dead tissue through the release of a tissue-dissolving enzyme as well as through crawling around with their spined bodies, removing dead tissue. A dressing must be used to keep the maggots in place for 2 to 3 days. This process, which sounds disgusting, is apparently significantly cheaper than surgical debridement.
Although the jury is still out on how effective maggot therapy is, some people swear by it and say that it's saved their limbs in cases where doctors were ready to amputate. I guess it does say something that that they are regulated by the FDA and covered (although inconsistently) by some third-party payers.
If you're not feeling grossed out enough yet, leeches are also approved by the FDA for reattachment microsurgery, and they're even used experimentally for arthritis. In one high profile case, Demi Moore used highly trained medical leeches to detoxify her blood.
Advocates of these therapies say that one of the biggest barriers to adoption is the patient stigma around having leeches or maggots used on their body.yeah I'll say.
In conclusion ew.