Leech therapy for complicated varicose veins

Author: Bapat RD//Acharya BS//Juvekar S//Dahanukar SA
Affiliation: Department of General Surgery, Therapeutics & Ayurveda Research Centre, Seth G.S. Medical College, Mumbai
Conference/Journal: Indian J Med Res
Date published: 1998
Other: Volume ID: 107 , Pages: 281-4 , Word Count: 256

Indian J Med Res. 1998 Jun;107:281-4.
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Leech therapy for complicated varicose veins.

Bapat RD//Acharya BS//Juvekar S//Dahanukar SA.

Department of General Surgery, Therapeutics & Ayurveda Research Centre, Seth G.S. Medical College, Mumbai.

Several methods of limb bandaging have been described to reduce the oedema and enhance ulcer healing in complicated varicose veins, with varying success rates. Leech therapy has never before been tried for the same. We evaluated the effectiveness of medicinal leech therapy in producing venous decongestion, reversal of oedema, hyperpigmentation and healing of varicose ulcer(s). Whether the leech selectively sucks venous blood was also investigated. Hirudo medicinalis (medicinal leech) was applied to the area surrounding the varicose ulcer(s) in 20 patients with varicose veins with complications and the patients monitored for ulcer healing, and decrease in hyperpigmentation, oedema and limb girth. The partial pressure of O2 (pO2) of 7 patients' arterial and venous blood was compared to that sucked by the leech. After leech therapy all the ulcers showed healing, while 95 per cent of patients showed a decrease in oedema and limb girth. Seventy five per cent patients demonstrated a decrease in hyperpigmentation. The mean pO2 of blood sucked by the leech was 40.05 ± 7.24 mmHg, which was similar to the mean pO2 of the patients' venous blood (34.33 ± 8.4 mmHg). Thus it appears from this study that the medicinal leech sucks venous blood and aids ulcer healing, and can probably therefore be used as an effective adjunct in the management of complicated varicose veins. This however requires further evaluation by controlled trials.