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1 Bite, 13 Surgeries & 20 Months Later

Mon, 11/02/2009 - 5:42am

Text attributed to Richard Johnson, Outdoor Life

Abnormally wet fall weather in many parts of the U.S. has resulted in an unanticipated increase in snake bites. Venomous snakebites are sometimes erroneously viewed as not all that serious, because most victims survive. Rarely reported is the physical devastation that some survivors endure after envenomation.

Rattlesnake venom is a hemotoxin carried by the circulatory system and can cause severe damage to tissue. Even if you survive, the aftermath might be horrible. Courtesy of Outdoor Life, the following description and image slideshow on Outdoor Life’s site, details a young man who was bitten on the palm of his hand.

His entire arm became so swollen that doctors decided to perform a fasciotomy from the palm of his hand all the way to his bicep in order to relieve the pressure. During the immediate 35 days after the bite, eight surgeries were performed.

With the injury open, doctors could clean out the dead tissue, using stitches and staples to hold the edges of the wound in place, as well as a surgical mesh to cover open muscles.

A skin graft, using tissue removed from the victim’s leg, was used to cover the opening in his arm, with follow-up surgeries including a vascular flap procedure using skin and muscle from the victim’s back and microsurgical procedures to connect the flap’s blood vessels to the ones in his arm. 

After twenty months and thirteen surgeries, the snakebite victim has recovered mobility and about 80 percent of the strength in his affected arm and hand.

To see the slideshow and progression of the surgical procedures, click here: http://www.outdoorlife.com/photos/gallery/hunting/2009/10/snakes-grass?cmpid=enews102909

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