The General Hospital (AKH) in Vienna not only focuses on the latest medical treatment options. Leeches, like those from antiquity, are used for healing purposes - about 50 times a year.
The medical leech is not only the best-known representative of the leeches, but also a medical device and is used as such at the AKH. It is kept in a separate chamber in the AKH institutional pharmacy. There, Alexander Gregor, the senior pharmaceutical assistant, takes care of the animals that need a lot of care: “The leeches are happy about bathing. Then you become mobile. "
The saliva of the animals brings the desired effect
50 missions per year
The purchased leeches are not fed in the institutional pharmacy, but only in the hospital wards, where they can eat as needed: "When fingers are sewn on again - so-called replantations - and there are circulatory disorders, we use leeches," says Christine Radtke, who heads plastic surgery at MedUni Vienna, in an interview with "Vienna Today". Leeches can also be used in tissue transplantation.
"They have a complex composition of anti-inflammatory substances, analgesic substances, blood-thinning substances in the saliva - and they all inject them when they dock and bite into them," explains the head of the pharmacy, Martina Anditsch. These medical assistants from the animal kingdom are brought to the aid about 50 times a year at the AKH.
The animals are kept in the institutional pharmacy
40 milliliters of blood per hour
A small leech sucks up to 40 milliliters of blood within an hour. When it is full, it leaves loose and is disposed of. "There are some who dread it," says Gregor. There are almost no side effects - in contrast to thousands of pharmaceutical products that are otherwise available, says Radtke: “Side effects are that you can of course be infected. Patients are then always given an antibiotic. ”Treatment with leeches is not entirely sterile, but it has worked for thousands of years.