Leech therapy is experiencing a resurgence in health care today, primarily in plastic and reconstructive surgery as a treatment for venous congestion, which can threaten surgical outcomes. Most nurses have had no formal training in administering the therapy or in maintaining Hirudo medicinalis, the species of freshwater worm used therapeutically. Yet nurses may be expected to participate in this therapy in a variety of clinical settings and can use these guidelines for the safe and effective use of the leech in treatment.
An anachronistic blood-letting tool, Hirudo medicinalis has made a welcome comeback.
Mary Ann Yantis is an associate professor at Baylor University in Dallas, and Kandace Newsom O'Toole is staff nurse in the cardiovascular ICU at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas.
Contact author: Mary Ann Yantis, firstname.lastname@example.org. The authors of this article have disclosed no significant ties, financial or otherwise, to any company that might have an interest in the publication of this educational activity.
At the time of the writing of this article, Patricia Ring was a senior nursing student at Louise Herrington School of Nursing, Baylor University. She passed away after completing the article and was awarded her degree posthumously.