The present scoping review provides evidence for the application of leech therapy in the treatment of plastic and reconstructive surgery, musculoskeletal diseases, osteoarthritis, etc..
The first recorded report of the use of leeches is in a medical poem, Alexipharma, for Nicander of Colophon, born 200 B.C.. There is also evidence of the using leeches by large scholars such as Avicenna in The Canon of Medicine and Abd-el-Latif al-Baghdadi in Al-Mukhtarat fi al-Tibb. Barbers-surgeons in the middle ages used to use leeches to shed blood for treating some kind of diseases. With the development of modern medicine, the first use of medical leeches occurred in the 1960's, for intravenous congestion after reconstructive surgery. In 2004 the FDA approved leech therapy to accelerate tissue transplantation.
After the developments of modern medicine, leeches were not used as before, but in the late nineteenth century, leeches were still being used in many countries around the world. Until now, leeches have been used to treat a wide range of diseases. The present study, is a scoping review of the evidence of the indication of leech therapy. The results of this study are based on English articles and dissertations published in databases from 2000 up to July 10, 2017. The results showed that leech therapy could be used in different conditions including venous congestion in plastic and reconstructive surgery, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular diseases due to blood coagulation disorders, migraine headache, skin disorders, diabetic foot ulcers, macroglossia, priapism, cancer complications, and wounds. More researches are needed in wider areas with more precise methodologies to ensure the potential therapeutic effects of leech therapy.