Clinical implications

North American Pit Viper Envenomation

Clinical implications

The consequences of North American pit viper envenomation may be severe, with rattlesnake bites producing the most severe clinical outcomes. Local sequelae can include:

  • Partial or complete loss of digits
  • Loss of function at a joint
  • Permanent sensory loss


Major clinical effects may occur with all North American pit viper envenomations

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  • The patient exhibited symptoms, as a result of the exposure, that were life threatening or resulted in significant residual disability or disfigurement.
    Coded by specialists in poison information based on patient or caregiver reports and the specialist in poison information coding manual.

In a review of all snakebite admissions to 5 major hospitals:

  • 80% of patients were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit for an average of 1.6 days.
  • Total hospital length of stay averaged 2.8 days.
  • 15% of hospitalized patients underwent surgical intervention, including fasciotomy (4%) and amputation (1 patient)

Clinical consequences can depend on many factors, including the victim’s age, size, and health, and the time elapsed since the bite.


Early treatment is important to help stop the progression of envenomation.

 
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