Antivenom for critically ill children with neurotoxicity from scorpion stings

Leslie V. Boyer, Andreas A. Theodorou, Robert A. Berg, Joanne Mallie, Ariana Chávez-Méndez, Walter García-Ubbelohde, Stephen Hardiman, Alejandro Alagón

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

145 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Clinically significant scorpion envenomation by Centruroides sculpturatus produces a dramatic neuromotor syndrome and respiratory insufficiency that often necessitate intensive supportive care. We hypothesized that a scorpion-specific F(ab′)2 antivenom would promptly resolve clinical symptoms in children with this syndrome. METHODS: In a randomized, double-blind study, the efficacy of scorpion-specific F(ab′)2 antivenom, as compared with placebo, was assessed in 15 children 6 months to 18 years of age who were admitted to a pediatric intensive care unit with clinically significant signs of scorpion envenomation. The primary end point was the resolution of the clinical syndrome within 4 hours after administration of the study drug. Secondary end points included the total dose of concomitant midazolam for sedation and quantitative plasma venom levels, before and after treatment. RESULTS: The clinical syndrome resolved more rapidly among recipients of the antivenom than among recipients of placebo, with a resolution of symptoms in all eight antivenom recipients versus one of seven placebo recipients within 4 hours after treatment (P = 0.001). More midazolam was administered in the placebo recipients than in the antivenom recipients (mean cumulative dose, 4.61 vs. 0.07 mg per kilogram of body weight; P = 0.01). Plasma venom concentrations were undetectable in all eight antivenom recipients but in only one placebo recipient 1 hour after treatment (P = 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Among critically ill children with neurotoxic effects of scorpion envenomation, intravenous administration of scorpion-specific F(ab′) 2 antivenom resolved the clinical syndrome within 4 hours, reduced the need for concomitant sedation with midazolam, and reduced the levels of circulating unbound venom. ( number, NCT00685230.)

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2090-2098
Number of pages9
JournalNew England Journal of Medicine
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 14 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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