This week on the show I bring you a look at an old, even ancient technology brought to you as something new to help vascular surgeons reattach arteries to skin and amputated body parts. I’m talking about the time honored medical tool called leeches. Yes, I said leeches. They’re back and they are changing the way patients respond to vascular surgeries and putting amputated limbs and fingers back on with fewer complications.
Now these aren’t the leeches you’ll find in the backyard stream around much of the world. I’m talking about specially raised medical grade leeches from companies like Leeches USA where doctors and surgical centers can order their leeches in 100 leech batches online.
What the leeches do is break up blood clots and promote the flow of blood in newly attached regions of the body by releasing anti clotting chemicals and other beneficial proteins into the bloodstream of an affected area. After about 10 minutes the leech fills up with blood and just lets go. The best part is that their bite causes no pain because they have a natural anesthetic in their saliva that numbs the area as they latch on.
Doctors, especially vascular surgeons have been using leeches in the U.S. since 2004 and these little buggers have become popular and cost-effective medical tools since then. A single one-time-use leech treatment costs just $10 which is much cheaper than additional surgeries to enhance blood flow to grafted skin or body parts. So the next time you head for surgery, ask you doctor if they use leeches in their practice and demonstrate your knowledge of health technology both new and old!
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