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Leeches make a comeback as medical helpers

The Baltimore Sun, January 25, 2011
Trauma doctors at Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland and other U.S. hospitals routinely use leeches as a temporary measure to keep blood flowing as new vessels grow in a damaged area. The animals kept blood moving in and out of a new skin flap sewn onto Miller's foot. They also can get blood flowing to amputated digits that are reattached. And because the leeches' saliva has a natural anesthetic, some doctors now are looking to use them to ease pain. "They can be the difference in whether the tissue lives or dies," Scott D. Lifchez, MD, section chief of plastic surgery at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, said about the blood-sucking worms.

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