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  1. J P Wyatt1,
  2. D Alao2
  1. 1Department of Accident and Emergency, Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske, Truro, Cornwall TR1 3LJ, UK;
  2. 2Department of Accident and Emergency, Derriford Hospital, Derriford, Plymouth, Devon, UK

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    Suction for snakebites ▸

    Suction applied to the fang wounds after snakebite is a traditional immediate first aid measure that is embedded in folklore. Research in this area is inconclusive, with many previous studies being flawed in design. This new study had an interesting design, which was perhaps most remarkable for the way in which it involved eight human “volunteers” who were prepared to suffer mock envenomation with a mixture containing radioactive albumin! Having had this mixture injected into their lower leg, a mechanical suction pump was applied over the injection site and fluid was recovered and analysed. Only a tiny amount of radioactive mock venom was recovered, such that it appeared that the suction pump was ineffective as a first aid measure. Whether these results can be extended to the real situation is open to question. The authors only chose to use one puncture wound rather than the usual two resulting from bites from venomous snakes (perhaps this was to spare the volunteers additional discomfort). More importantly, the mock venom clearly only had a limited effect upon adjacent tissues, which is likely to be very different from true venom.

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