Suction for venomous snakebite: a study of "mock venom" extraction in a human model

Ann Emerg Med. 2004 Feb;43(2):181-6. doi: 10.1016/S0196064403008138.


Study objective: We determine the percentage of mock venom recovered by a suction device (Sawyer Extractor pump) in a simulated snakebite in human volunteers.

Methods: A mock venom (1 mL normal saline solution, 5.0 mg albumin, 2.5 mg aggregated albumin) radioactively labeled with 1 mCi of technetium was injected with a curved 16-gauge hypodermic needle 1 cm into the right lateral lower leg of 8 supine male volunteers aged 28 to 51 years. The Sawyer Extractor pump was applied after a 3-minute delay, and the blood removed by suction was collected after an additional 15 minutes. A 1991 Siemens Diacam was used to take measurements of the radioactive counts extracted and those remaining in the leg and body.

Results: The "envenomation load," as measured by mean radioactivity in the leg after injection, was 89,895 counts/min. The mean radioactivity found in the blood extracted in the 15 minutes of suction was 38.5 counts/min (95% confidence interval [CI] -33 to 110 counts/min), representing 0.04% of the envenomation load. The postextraction leg count was less than the envenomation load by 1,832 counts/min (95% CI -3,863 to 200 counts/min), representing a 2.0% decrease in the total body venom load.

Conclusion: The Sawyer Extractor pump removed bloody fluid from our simulated snakebite wounds but removed virtually no mock venom, which suggests that suction is unlikely to be an effective treatment for reducing the total body venom burden after a venomous snakebite.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Snake Bites / therapy*
  • Snake Venoms*
  • Suction / instrumentation*
  • Treatment Failure


  • Snake Venoms