Clinical uses of the medicinal leech: a practical review.

Journal of postgraduate medicine

PubMedID: 21206115

Porshinsky BS, Saha S, Grossman MD, Beery Ii PR, Stawicki SP. Clinical uses of the medicinal leech: a practical review. J Postgrad Med. 2011;57(1):65-71.
The medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis, is an excellent example of the use of invertebrates in the treatment of human disease. Utilized for various medical indications since the ancient times, the medicinal leech is currently being used in a narrow range of well-defined and scientifically-grounded clinical applications. Hirudotherapy is most commonly used in the setting of venous congestion associated with soft tissue replantations and free flap-based reconstructive surgery. This is a comprehensive review of current clinical applications of hirudotherapy, featuring a comprehensive search of all major medical search engines (i.e. PubMed, Google Scholar, ScientificCommons) and other cross-referenced sources. The authors focus on indications, contraindications, practical application/handling of the leech, and therapy-related complications.