JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Conservative treatment of copperhead snakebites without antivenin.

Journal of Trauma 1996 August
Polyvalent antivenin remains the most recommended treatment of crotalid envenomation, including copperhead snakebites. Because of the significant morbidity associated with antivenin therapy, some have proposed conservative therapy for less serious envenomations. Few if any studies have separated the treatment of the less serious copperhead bite from the more serious bite of a rattlesnake or a water moccasin. Fifty-five patients, including 12 children, with copperhead bites were treated over a 12-year period. All 55 patients were successfully treated conservatively without antivenin. Conservative treatment resulted in no deaths, limb loss, or residual disability. The mean hospital stay was 2.15 days compared with 3.9 days in patients with systemic symptoms. These data support a conservative approach to most copperhead envenomations and suggest that the treatment for copperhead bites should be segregated from the more serious rattlesnake and water moccasin snakebites.

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