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Journal of the Korean Society for Surgery of the Hand 2000;9(2):158-163.
Published online November 30, 2000.
The Problem of Leech Application in Digital Replantation
Nae Ho Lee, M.D., Kyoung Moo Yang, M.D.
수지첨부 재건 후 거머리 사용시 발생하는 문제점에 대한 고찰
  Over the past several years, countless patients have benefitted from the use of leeches in microsurgery. As we know, leeches are used to overcome the problem of venous congestion by creating prolonged localized bleeding uniquely characteristics of leech bite.
  Venous congestion, a common complication of digital replantation, often has been treated through surgical repair like arteriovenous anastomosis. The leech produces a number of important substances which contribute to the special property of the bite, including an anticoagulant, a local vasodilator and local anesthetics. The bite usually bleeds for 1 to 2 hours and under special circumstances may bleed for up to 24 hours. So venous congestion is relieved.
  However, leeches increase the possibility of infection through their gut content. Infection associated medical leech application is significant risk. Other risk include allergic reaction, adverse psychologic reaction and blood loss requiring transfusion.
  The 65 cases of medical leech application were performed between August, 1997 and May, 2000 according to an established protocol. The complication were 18 cases ; infection (13 cases), hemorrhage (2 cases), allergic reaction (1 case), psychologic problem (1 case) and hypochromic anemia (1 case).
  Then our study was performed on the base of indication. As a result, Aeromonas hydrophilia was cultured from gut of medical leech and Klebsiella, Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas were cultured from media. We present the clinical risk-benefit of the medical leech therapy through several cases following digital replantation.
Key Words: Digital replantation, Medical leech application, Infection

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