Randomized controlled trial on the effective dose of anti-snake venom in cases of snake bite with systemic envenomation

J Assoc Physicians India. 1999 Apr;47(4):369-71.


Snake bite is the common cause of morbidity and mortality in India. Snake antivenom, although very effective, is expensive, scarce, and associated with side effects. The conventional dose may not be required in all cases and a smaller dose may be as effective. A randomized double blind controlled trial was conducted to compare the effect of lower versus the conventional (high) dose. Patients presenting within 24 hours of snake bite with hematological or neurological evidence of systemic envenomation were included in the study. Patients were randomized either to receive high dose (2 vials over 1 hour, followed by 2 vials over 4 hours and repeated 4 hourly until clotting parameters normalized and then 2 vials as infusion over 24 hours) or low dose (2 vials over 1 hour, followed by 1 vial over four hours, repeated 4 hourly until clotting parameters were normalized and then 1 vial as an infusion over 24 hours). Thirty one patients received high dose and 29 a low dose. The mean dose of antivenom used was significantly different in the two groups (8.9 and 4.7, respectively). There was no mortality. The duration of stay was 4.94 and 3.48 days, respectively. There was no difference in the transfusion, dialysis or ventilation requirement of the two groups. Low dose regimen is more effective and required 5 vials less than the conventional dose. Each vial costs Rs. 200, so the estimated savings is Rs. 1000 per patient.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antivenins / administration & dosage*
  • Antivenins / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • India
  • Male
  • Snake Bites / mortality
  • Snake Bites / therapy*


  • Antivenins