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Redefining the role of therapeutic plasma exchange in complications of Echis carinatus sochureki envenomation refractory to anti-snake venom: A case series.

INTRODUCTION: Saw-scaled viper ( Echis carinatus ) belongs to the Viperidae family. Its venom is hemotoxic and contains several small peptides and proteins affecting the coagulation system. Commonly used anti-snake venom (ASV) products in India are reported to be ineffective or less effective in cases with bites by Echis carinatus sochureki which are commonly found in desert areas in Rajasthan. Although therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) has been successful in patients with snakebite envenomation in the past, American Society for Apheresis guidelines 2019 included this indication under category III with grade 2C recommendation.

AIM AND OBJECTIVES: To report the safety and efficacy of therapeutic plasma exchange procedures in the setting of ASV refractory E. c. sochureki envenomation.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Four patients admitted to our institute in 2021 September with an alleged history of snake bites and who underwent at least one cycle of therapeutic plasma exchange were assessed for clinical outcome, laboratory parameters, and blood product consumption.

RESULTS: Three adult patients and one pediatric patient are included in this case series, all of them males. Indication for TPE in one case was suspected diffuse alveolar hemorrhage (DAH), while in all the other cases was thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA). All received a variable number of sessions from 2 to 5 and 1.3-1.5 plasma volume was removed on an average per cycle. The endpoint of TPE was the resolution of DAH in one while a reduction in lactate dehydrogenase and an increase in platelet count was in TMA cases. Consumption of blood products was drastically reduced in all four patients after starting the procedure. All the adult patients fared well on follow-up while the child had developed acute cortical necrosis and was dialysis-dependent. It has been noted in the previous studies too that a subset of snakebite-induced TMA cases was getting converted to chronic kidney disease and becoming dialysis dependent in the long run.

CONCLUSIONS: In regions where ASV treatment failure is very common, therapeutic plasma exchange is a safe and effective complementary treatment modality along with supportive care.

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