A Comprehensive Review of Medicinal Leeches in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2019 Dec; 7(12):e2555.PR
Medicinal leeches are a US Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for venous congestion in graft tissue to promote healing and can serve as a nonsurgical option for plastic surgery patients with concern for tissue compromise. Although there is a wealth of documentation on medicinal leech therapy, the surgical space currently lacks an updated summary of proper indications, use, and risks as they pertain to plastic surgical patients. The purpose of this article is to provide a platform for understanding the recent literature as it relates to reconstruction to improve understanding of indications and necessary considerations in using hirudotherapy. Topics examined include basics of hirudotherapy, indications in plastic surgery, implementation (leech application, number and duration of therapy, and removal), risks (infection and bleeding), and alternative treatments. The evidence provided will aid in physician understanding and implementation, patient counseling, and the informed consent process.