Snake bite suction devices – a (pessimistic) review

seasnakeWhat should one do if bitten, say, by a pit-viper? Perhaps make use of a proprietary snakebite venom suction device? Maybe not such a good idea, according to recent research from Professor Sean P. Bush, MD, FACEP, (pictured right, holding a sea-snake) of the Department of Emergency Medicine, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Medical Center and Children’s Hospital, Loma Linda, California.

In a review of more than a dozen research papers which investigated the effectiveness of a selection of snakebite suction devices, the verdict was clear : Snakebite Suction Devices Don’t Remove Venom: They Just Suck (Annals of Emergency Medicine, Volume 43, Issue 2 , February 2004, pp. 187-188, ) The paper concludes :

“The best first aid for snakebite is a cell phone and a helicopter.”

BONUS: The full paper

BONUS:  The Ig Nobel Prize-winning study “Failure of Electric Shock Treatment for Rattlesnake Envenomation.” [Annals of Emergency Medicine, vol. 20, no. 6, June 1991, pp. 659-61.]