Maggots can be used to help remove dead tissue from a wound.

Many wounds leave behind a bit of dead tissue while they are healing. While some individuals will have some degree of autolytic debridement, or the body’s natural healing mechanisms, some wounds will need outside assistance. Here are a few of the main types of wound debridement, as well as a few more obscure options that patients or clinicians may want to explore:

Autolytic

As briefly stated above, autolytic debridement uses the body’s own healing processes to remove dead tissue. This option, while slow, is often one of the least painful, yet due to the slow process, infection may pose a larger threat to the wound.

Enzymatic

This type of wound debridement uses chemical enzymes to assist in wound healing. Enzymes that help slough off the dead tissue are often available as part of a topic ointment; however, the ointment must be carefully applied to only the currently dead tissue – if the enzymes come in contact with healthy tissue, they could cause issues.

Although this debridement option is often more expensive than some others, the healing process is often much shorter. Some patients may experience some inflammation during the debriding.

Surgical

Surgery to remove dead tissue is common in some chronic wound healing procedures or wounds that are very large in size. Because the debridement occurs in one session, the room for error is often much smaller – surgeons can visibly see what is being removed, and avoid the healthy or granulating tissues. According to the Wound Care Information Network, the surgical debridement can also be used on infected wounds.

Similar to enzymatic debridement, surgical removal can be costly, as it may require operating room costs, depending on the extent of the removal.

Mechanical

This type of debridement is one most chronic wound patients will likely be familiar with. Contrary to its name, mechanical debridement is done through the use of wet and dry dressings that are regularly changed throughout the healing process. Dressings most often used start off as wet, slowly drying with the tissue so that, when the dressing is removed, the necrotic tissue is removed along with it. However, as with enzymatic debridement, mechanical removal can strip the healthy and dead tissue away, so this method is most often effective for large areas of unhealthy tissue.

Depending on the type of wet-to-dry dressing used, this type of debridement can be one of the most inexpensive for the patient. However, due to the constant removal and application of new dressings, this type of debridement can be more painful for the patient than other methods.

Maggot

Using larvae to remove dead tissue may gross some individuals out, but this method can be extremely effective. Maggots selectively eat only the necrotic tissue of a wound, and when placed under a loose bandage, can be used to assist in the healing process.

Maggot debridement may not be the fastest methods, and clinicians should find reliable options for this. Since it is not widely administered, patients need to consult their clinicians before opting for this type of debridement.