Send to

Choose Destination
Lancet. 1999 Sep 11;354(9182):906-9.

Serotherapy in scorpion envenomation: a randomised controlled trial.

Author information

Intensive Care Unit, CHU F Bourgulba, Monastir, Tunisia.



Evidence for the benefit of scorpion antivenom, the only specific treatment for scorpion envenomation, is scarce, despite its common use. We did a prospective, randomised, controlled trial to assess the efficacy of routine administration of scorpion antivenom to scorpion-stung patients, irrespective of clinical severity.


We included 825 consecutive patients older than 10 years, who presented to the accident and emergency department of the hospital in Tozeur, Tunisia. We graded severity by absence (grade I) or presence (grade II) of systemic manifestations of scorpion envenomation. Patients were randomly assigned placebo (n=413) or 20 mL bivalent intraveneous scorpion antivenom (n=412). All patients were observed for 4 h. Patients who developed life-threatening symptoms were admitted to the intensive-care unit. At the end of 4 h observation we reassessed grade and discharged grade II patients and admitted grade II patients. We assessed the preventive and curative effects of scorpion antivenom by prevention of worsening grade or by improvement from grade II to grade I.


Distribution of severity grades was similar in the two groups at baseline, as were the cure rates (55% scorpion antivenom, 66% placebo, absolute difference, 11% [95% CI -4.8 to 26.8]; p=0.234). Preventive effects were seen in 94% and 96% of patients in the scorpion antivenom and placebo groups, respectively, who were initially grade I and who remained symptom-free (absolute difference, 2% [-1.27 to 5.27]; p=0.377). Time from scorpion sting to administration of scorpion antivenom did not affect curative and preventive effects.


We found no benefit in routine administration of scorpion antivenom after scorpion sting, irrespective of clinical severity. Future studies should focus on patients with the most severe symptoms and signs.

Comment in

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center