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J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 1999;37(1):51-7.

Efficacy of serotherapy in scorpion sting: a matched-pair study.

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Intensive Care Unit CHU F, Hached, Sousse, Tunisia.



Although evidence of scorpion antivenin effectiveness in the clinical setting is lacking, scorpion antivenin is generally considered the only specific treatment for scorpion sting irrespective of its clinical severity. We conducted a matched-pair study to assess the efficacy of systematic administration of scorpion antivenin.


Among 600 stung patients who participated in a study on the efficacy of high-dose hydrocortisone after scorpion sting, 135 (cases) had been treated with 10 to 20 mL intravenous scorpion antivenin (neutralizing 10 LD50 venom/mL). Controls were matched on disease severity on arrival to the emergency department. The severity of envenomation was graded I or II according to the absence (grade I) or the presence (grade II) of systemic manifestations of scorpion envenomation. Assessment of scorpion antivenin efficacy was based on the rate of changing severity grade in both groups (clinical improvement or worsening during an observation period of at least 4 hours).


Both groups were similar with respect to clinical severity (36 patients were graded II in each group), age, sex, time-lapse between scorpion sting and ED arrival, and the administration of adjunctive therapy such as hydrocortisone. By the 4-hour evaluation, 50% and 64% of patients initially graded II exhibited a substantial clinical improvement in cases and controls, respectively, suggesting similar effects in cases and controls. There was no difference in preventive effects: 13% and 10% of cases and controls developed systemic manifestations of scorpion envenomation during the 4-hour observation period; 23% of cases and 17% controls were hospitalized by this time. There was no difference in the duration of hospitalization. Three cases developed anaphylactic shock as a consequence of scorpion antivenin administration, while 1 scorpion antivenin-untreated patient died from refractory shock.


Systematic administration of scorpion antivenin irrespective of clinical severity did not alter the clinical course of scorpion sting. A prospective study is needed concerning the response of the more severe scorpion envenomations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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