Leech therapy in cutaneous surgery and disease

Adam J. Mamelak, Adrianna Jackson, Rabia Nizamani, Ofer Arnon, Nanette J. Liegeois, Richard J. Redett, Patrick J. Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: Over the ages, the use of leeches in medicine has evolved from haphazard bloodletting to a well-understood physiologic process with defined, rational applications. Objective: The authors describe the current role of leech therapy in cutaneous surgery and medicine. Methods: Case series and review of the literature. Results: Leech saliva contains anticoagulative, anti-aggregative and vasodilatory components. Combined with the annelid's mechanical ability to extract blood, leeches can contribute to patients' health with minimal risks. Conclusion: Leeches should be considered as novel therapies for disorders of coagulation and venous congestion. Implementation of leech treatment should be tempered with the potential adverse effects, including Aeromonas infection and a drop in hematocrit that might require a blood transfusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-257
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Drugs in Dermatology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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