Management of pediatric snake bites: Are we doing too much?

Jesus A. Correa, Sara C. Fallon, Andrea T. Cruz, Glenda H. Grawe, Phong V. Vu, Daniel M. Rubalcava, Brent Kaziny, Bindi J. Naik-Mathuria, Mary L. Brandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The optimal management of children with snake bite injuries is not well defined. The purpose of this study was to review the use of antivenom, diagnostic tests, and antibiotics in children bitten by venomous snakes in a specific geographic region (Southeast Texas). Methods This is a retrospective single-center review of all patients with snake bite injury from 1/2006 to 6/2012. An envenomated bite was defined as causing edema, discoloration of the skin, necrosis, or systemic effects. The severity of injury was scored using a novel 4-point scale based on initial physical examination alone. Results One hundred fifty-one children (mean age 8.4 ± 4.3 years) were treated for a snake bite. There were no mortalities. Lower extremity injuries were most common (60%). Most bites were from copperheads (43%). Envenomation was evident in 82% (average wound score: 2.61 ± 0.81). The median hospital stay for admitted patients (79%) was 2 days (range 1-7). Four patients required surgery for complications of the snake bite. Fifty-two children (34%) received CroFab, with one allergic reaction. 22/135 (16%) had evidence of coagulopathy. Seventy-two children (48%) received IV antibiotics. Conclusion Despite a high rate of envenomated bites in Southeast Texas, significant morbidity is rare. Children with an envenomation score of 1 or 2 are unlikely to be coagulopathic, suggesting that laboratory investigation should be reserved for patients with higher scores. The indications for the administration of CroFab deserve further prospective study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1009-1015
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Animal bite
  • Antivenom
  • Envenomation
  • Pediatric
  • Snake bite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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