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#121879 - 01/29/08 02:59 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: Macgyver]
aardwolfe Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/22/01
Posts: 923
Loc: St. John's, Newfoundland
Do you have a citation for the Italian study? I'd be interested in reading it (although my area of academia is math and computer science, not medicine).

I'm prepared to be open-minded about it, and your explanation certainly sounds plausible, but the fact that 3 doctors in the US swear by it isn't particularly convincing to me, without some sort of controlled study. Out of the entire USA, you could probably find three GPs who believe just about anything. The only academic paper I was able to find (admittedly, I only did the one quick search yesterday) was the WEM Journal review, which found it to be ineffective.

The thousand-plus cases reported in Ecuador may have been part of a clinical trial, but it sounds to me very anecdotal. (Do you have a source for this data as well?) The WEM Journal article, IIRC, cited at least one case where the patient was treated with both electro-shock and conventional anti-venin treatments, so it's impossible to know which treatment effected the recovery.

I agree with you, the Darwin award guy was so over the top, it's impossible to draw any conclusions about the effectiveness of the technique, other than it's probably not easy or safe to improvise an electric shock device in the field.

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"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."
-Plutarch

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#121918 - 01/29/08 10:28 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: aardwolfe]
Macgyver Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/24/06
Posts: 81
Loc: Victoria Australia
Hey Aardwolfe, the Italian study was in the Journal of Biochemical Molecular Toxicology volume 21, number 1, 2007. The title was "Inactivation of phospholipase A2 and Metalloproteinaise from crotalus atrox venom by direct current" By Isabella Panfoli et al.

There have been papers in the Journal of the oklahoma medical association and letters published in The Lancet. The info about those are in the other thread.

300 of the 1000 were observed and notes taken including pain, swelling, Haemocoagulation, time until treatment etc, the others were just treated and the outcome noted. 5 percent death to nothing is rather significant I think. However even anecdotal evidence in overwelming numbers becomes a form of proof. I have the report that I can send you. I have sent you a PM about the papers. I also am a friend of the guy who set up the study and it is far from just anecdotal.

Most of the people quoting evidence of it not working with people are actually quoting the Darwin guy incident, then other people quote the people quoting etc. The facts are that no one saying it doesn't work has tried it and done a simple scientific trial such as stinging themself with a bee and then shocking the area with a lawnmower spark system. It is very easy and safe to improvise a device in the feild, just not with a car ignition and especially not with it at 3000 rpm. If they have, then they would know like I do that it works very effectively. The way you can use a car spark system is to just disconnect the distributor lead and turn the car over with the ignition. Some car spark coils are too hot however.

Hey Arney, Thanks for the comment, the device works quite well and we have quite a few out in the field for testing at the moment. We have lots of people interested in them who have used this method in the past and found that they work. It is perfect for the third world because it is wind up, rugged and doesn't use batteries so it can sit on the shelf for 10 years and then work first time.




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#121936 - 01/30/08 01:29 AM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: Macgyver]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
"...shocking the area with a lawnmower spark system..."

OUCH!!! I have a pretty good resistance to electric shock (I used to be able to max out those things in the penny arcades). One of the hardest shocks I have ever suffered was from a law mower sparkplug, that sucker almost put me to my knees. I was standing on a wet sidewalk at the time, maybe that had something to do with it...
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#121982 - 01/30/08 08:16 AM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: OldBaldGuy]
Macgyver Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/24/06
Posts: 81
Loc: Victoria Australia
I failed to mention that the lawnmower is supposed to be turned off, with the lead removed from the spark plug, and only then do you pull the starter cord. It packs quite a punch when the motor is running flat out, because the voltage increases as the speed of the flywheel increases, so touching a running lawnmower..... while standing in water... would definitely be a humbling experience smile The fingers are also very sensitive, and a shock to the fingers is much more painful than one to, perhaps, the arm.

The device that we are building gives about 10 pulses in about 1 second. You have to then rewind it and repeat if necessary. On the arm it feels like more of a quick spasm than a painful shock. It is quite a bit less painful than a bee sting, and it doesn't hurt afterward either.


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#121997 - 01/30/08 01:55 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: Macgyver]
OldBaldGuy Offline
Geezer

Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 5695
Loc: Former AFB in CA, recouping fr...
"...It is quite a bit less painful than a bee sting, and it doesn't hurt afterward either..."

Sounds MUCH better than getting zapped by a mower!!!
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#122007 - 01/30/08 02:41 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: Macgyver]
aardwolfe Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/22/01
Posts: 923
Loc: St. John's, Newfoundland
That journal is published by Wiley Interscience, an extremely reputable agency, so it appears there is more to this than some old wives' tale and a nutbar with a pickup truck.

I got a copy of the paper through the University website (I'm an off-campus PhD student so I have access to their on-line library) and will take a look at it if I get the chance. Not saying I'll be able to, or that I will understand it if I do, but I find this quite fascinating.

Sorry for being so skeptical - well, no, actually I'm not. Scientists are supposed to be skeptical. There's a lot of charlatanry involved in "snakebite medicine", especially in third-world countries, and so before accepting a claim like this at face value, I believe we should demand fairly strong evidence.

A paper published in the Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology carries a lot more weight with me than "some Italians did a study and found it worked" :-) Hope I didn't offend you, but I'd do the same again, just so you know.

Cheers.
_________________________
"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."
-Plutarch

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#122046 - 01/30/08 10:27 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: aardwolfe]
Macgyver Offline
Journeyman

Registered: 05/24/06
Posts: 81
Loc: Victoria Australia
Hey Aardwolfe, No hard feelings, it is important to look at things with an open mind, and examine the evidence. A scripture comes to mind, "examine all things and hold fast to that which is good"

The thing that does bother me with most doctors is that they will say "there was a study done that disproves it", but never actually check out the study to make sure that it was done in a proper manner. Eventually I want to have summaries of the different published papers on our site with explainations as to why they worked or not, or why it worked and they didn't conclude that it did.

Now I see that it is more popular for them to say that there is insufficient evidence, which covers them down the road. However the evidence is building, although there should be much more research, we have only touched the very tip of the subject.

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#122137 - 01/31/08 03:30 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: Macgyver]
aardwolfe Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/22/01
Posts: 923
Loc: St. John's, Newfoundland
Originally Posted By: Macgyver
Now I see that it is more popular for them to say that there is insufficient evidence, which covers them down the road.


Well, actually, that's always been the standard (and appropriate) scientific response to any new claim. We're all from Missouri, so to speak; "Show me" is how science operates.

GLENDOWER: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

HOTSPUR: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
But will they come when you do call for them?

(Shakespeare: Henry IV Part I: Act 3)

I can, however, believe that it doesn't get a lot of funding or support because the big pharmaceutical companies haven't figured out a way to make money from it. Also, snake bites may be a big problem in rural South America where people don't have any money, but outside of a handful of backpackers and Park Rangers, it is probably not perceived as a big money-maker for those companies, even if they could patent it.:-(

Keep working at it. Maybe you could get Taser International to invest - they could use some good publicity these days. (Hey, that's not a joke.)
_________________________
"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled."
-Plutarch

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#123788 - 02/14/08 02:04 AM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: aardwolfe]
Hikin_Jim Offline
Sheriff
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 10/12/07
Posts: 1804
Loc: Southern California
Things really have changed with time. There's still a lot of old thinking out there being passed on as gospel, but I think there actually is a fair degree of what constitutes appropriate treatement.

I just took a WFA (Wilderness First Aid) class this past summer. They recommended no tourniquets, splinting, cooling, cutting, or sucking. They recommended keeping the victim calm and evacuating to the nearest medical facility where antivenin (aka anti venom) was available. A Sawyer Extractor has a good reputation with insect bites but was explicitly not recommended for snake bites. The only first aid they recommended was to wash the wound with soap and water and cover with a dry, sterile dressing.

I think that (wash, cover, keep calm, evacuate) is where modern thinking is. Tourniquets, splinting, cutting, sucking, cooling, etc. are older ideas which have not stood the test of today's evidence based medicine -- there's no evidence that these older ideas help; indeed, particularly with cutting, there is evidence that the technique actually makes things worse.

Home remedies/folk medicine such as carbon poultices probably wouldn't hurt anything, but I wouldn't bet my life on them. Home remedies and folk medicine should never be substituted in the case of a life threatening emergency such as a snake bite.

I am even more skeptical about any electrical shocking of the body. At best, it's a highly controversial, highly experimental technique. While I might be willing to beta test softwhere, I for danged sure am not going to be a beta tester with my life.
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#123846 - 02/14/08 03:01 PM Re: Immediate action for a snake bite? [Re: Hikin_Jim]
jshannon Offline
Addict

Registered: 02/02/03
Posts: 575
Loc: North Texas
As if splinting an arm so as to keep it at rest were going to do major harm...lol. Obviously if you are going to walk out you can't splint your leg. Common sense use is in order.

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