Treatment of snakebite in Australia: The current evidence base and questions requiring collaborative multicentre prospective studies

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    Despite the wealth of anecdotes and case reports there are fundamental questions of management of snakebite in Australia that remain unresolved or for which the current evidence is limited. The efficacy in the field, potential limitations and possibility of improvements in pressure immobilisation first aid need objective studies in humans. Optimal bandage sizes, stretch and pressure for different sized limbs need further evaluation, as does the use of pressure pads. Better definitions of specific clinical envenoming syndromes attributable to individual snake species are required, including elucidation of within-genus variations, similarities and differences. Venom studies suggest this is especially important for species within the brown snake (Pseudonaja) and death adder (Acanthophis) genera. Appropriate antivenom types, doses and dosing intervals for individual snake species should be more formally studied in patients. Especially important are confirmation of the need for higher doses of brown snake antivenom, while possibly limiting unnecessarily high doses, confirmation of the critical importance of early antivenom use to prevent pre-synaptic neurotoxicity in Taipan and tiger snake bites and ascertainment of whether larger doses of antivenom are unhelpful in Taipan bites after specified time delays. Confirmation of clinical efficacy and dosing recommendations for use of tiger snake (Notechis) antivenom in envenoming from Australian copperhead (Austrelaps spp.), broad headed (Hoplocephalus spp.) and rough-scaled snakes (Tropidechis carinatus) also require formal study in patients. Other examples of clinical relevance of cross-specificity of current and future monospecific antivenoms and whether there are geographical variations in antivenom responses within species will require elucidation. Prospective multicentre collaborative studies with predefined data collection and serial venom level assays are proposed as the way forward in Australia to help resolve therapeutic uncertainties and to establish a firmer evidence base for best-practice treatment guidelines for Australasian elapid snakebite. � 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)941-956
    Number of pages16
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 2006


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