For two months, Bhagwati Devi, 75, neglected the pain in the right side of her face. But when blood started dripping through her nose, she agreed to go to a hospital.
The Palwal-resident went to Faridabad’s Fortis Escorts, where doctors spotted a cluster of over 100 live maggots, each 1cm X 0.3cm in size, inside her nose. “I did a nasal endoscopy, a technique used to get a magnified view of the inside nose, and spotted maggots during diagnosis, but I could never imagine that the number would be more than 100,” said Dr Sanjeev Chawla, the ENT surgeon who performed the surgery.
The surgery was performed in two phases, as even after removing more than 50 maggots, doctors could see movement inside the mucous membrane. “The maggots had made caves around the sinus region, between right eye corner and right cheeks, and behind the nose and beneath the brain called naso-pharynx region. It wasn’t possible to extract all in one sitting,” said Dr Chawla.
The first surgery that lasted for about two hours was done under general anaesthesia on August 25 and the second on August 27. More than 15 maggots crawled out of the nose after turpentine oil was put inside the nostril to suffocate the ones left behind.
A delay of even 15 days would have been lethal, said the doctors. “She was lucky, they stayed in and around the nose and did not infect the brain, eyes, throat or lungs,” said Dr Chawla. Doctors think a maggot or two could have crawled in through the nose or the small gap that was left a year ago after the removal of a cancerous tumour on the right side of the nose, and laid eggs.
Bhagwati was discharged on August 30 and needs a follow-up once a week. “It had become difficult to even breathe; the pain was unbearable. Now it's much better,” she said.
Under the knife
In a two-hour surgery, an endoscope (an instrument with a small camera) and an instrument to extract maggots was inserted through the nose under anaesthesia. About 90 live maggots were removed in two sittings.
Turpentine oil was poured to suffocate the remaining maggots. It made another 15 maggots crawl out of the nostrils.
The stitchless surgery cost about Rs50,000.