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Br J Plast Surg. 2002 Jul;55(5):434-5.

A snake in the clinical grass: late compartment syndrome in a child bitten by an adder.

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Department of Plastic Surgery, Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, Exeter, UK.


Snakebite envenomation is an uncommon condition in the UK, but requires vigilance with regard to both the systemic effects of the venom and the locoregional impact on the soft tissues. We describe a case requiring delayed fasciotomies for closed compartment syndrome of the leg and thigh, and discuss in detail the controversies surrounding decompression in such a case. Adder bites are uncommon in the UK, but can result in envenomation of varying severity. Apart from the numerous possible systemic effects that require attention, there are local effects that, very rarely, can be limb threatening. Of these, elevated limb compartment pressures are of paramount importance, and recognition of closed compartment ischaemia is vital if the limb is to be saved by surgical decompression. Guidelines on threshold compartment pressures and fasciotomies are indistinct regarding snakebite, with diagnostic emphasis still placed on clinical signs and symptoms. In the paediatric setting, measurement of compartment pressures is a valuable adjunct to clinical suspicion in the diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome secondary to snakebite.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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