A Vietnamese man who had an infected head injury may have been saved by maggots that ate the dead tissue, Central European News (CEN) reported.
Pham Quang Lanh, 28, was struck by an iron bar that had fallen off the building where he was employed as a guest worker in Malaysia. A titanium plate was inserted over his skull and seemed to heal, leaving Lanh with occasional headaches.
A year ago, he noticed it was swollen and sore to the touch.
"I didn't want to go to hospital again because I hoped it would heal on its own and even now, three years later, I'm still paying the bill back for the last operation. I just couldn't afford another medical bill,” Lanh told CEN.
When his family looked at the wound, they noticed maggots under his skin and took him to Hanoi’s Viet Duc Hospital.
Doctors there determined that the injury’s initial swelling was due to infection and eventually some of the tissue had died, leaving him with a festering injury.
He was taken into surgery, where doctors discovered several maggots, which were removed, but then needed to operate to remove maggots that had gone in deeper.
In an unusual twist, it turned out that the maggot infestation had actually saved the man’s life by eating the necrotic tissue, Dr. Nguyen Duch Anh, of the hospital’s neurology ward, told CEN.
"This sort of fly infestation is extremely rare, especially in the skull. I found eight references to it in medical literature worldwide, and in every case the other patient died,” he told CEN. “In this man's case, however, the maggots had not gone on to eat any of his brain because of the metal plate, and actually may have kept him alive by eating the dead tissue that might otherwise have made the infection spread more quickly and killed him.”
According to CEN, the use of maggots to cleanse wounds is well known in historical medical practices because they can remove dead tissue and disinfect wounds.