This page is dedicated to make public aware about the important role of plastic surgery in snakebite management.
Although the initial 2-3 days after a venomous snakebite essentially belongs to the Medicine Specialists, some patientshowever, develop surgical complications that needs to be addressed by Plastic Surgeons. Large pythons can also inflict painful bites which can severely damage muscles, vein/arteries tendons etc. which need plastic surgery.
Without the reconstruction of the affected limb by the plastic surgeons most of the cases develops contracture. The victims face physical difficulties to perform day to day works. Often the physical deformities lead to psychological and social stigma due to this.
When plastic/reconstructive surgery is not done?
Usually, the snakebite wounds take much more time to heal as compared to the normal wounds. Therefore, the patient has to be deprived from many of his day to day works till the completely heals, or he/she has to modify his lifestyle to adopt into difficulties. For example, if his right hand is bitten by snake, the victim has to take food in his/her left hands for days or up to months. Similarly, if his/her left hand is bitten he/she has to depend on the right hand unpleasantly for lavatory works. Furthermore, the delay in healing of the wound often resulted into gangrene, which creates more complications.
Many snakebite victims neglect the surgical complications and resume their normal activities without consulting the plastic surgeons, and pay for the negligence. The affected limbs often get irreversible damages which hampers the normal activity of the victims.
Case 1: A snake charmer bitten by monocled cobra. His right little finger got severe contracture without any plastic or reconstructive surgery. He can’t even put his hand in his pocket now.
Case 2: A snake rescuer ignored advice; thus, faced amputation without plastic surgery.
Drawbacks without reconstructive surgery:
- The wound healing takes much longer.
- The bitten limb gets deformed.
- Difficulty to perform routine jobs.
- Physical skill is reduced.
- Non-healing snakebite wounds can even end in cancer.
- Victim faces both mental and social stigma.
Therefore, we advise the snakebite victims to consult a qualified Plastic Surgeon in the 1st week of surgical complications.
Advantage of reconstructive surgery:
- The wound heals faster.
- The affected limb is saved (or reduced) from deformity.
- Routine jobs least affected.
- Physical skill maintained (or less hampered).
- Victim does not face any mental or social stigma.
In Odisha we have observed severe tissue damages and surgical complications in envenomation from 3 species of snakes, i.e., Spectacled cobra, Monocled Cobra, and Russell’s viper.
We have documented some cases where the snakebite victims have undergone plastic surgery. The successful case studies will surely encourage snakebite victims to get them examined by Plastic Surgeons early so as to get the maximum benefit.
Here we present few successful plastic surgery cases where the victims got their limbs reconstructed with minimum deformity. The case studies will be elaborated gradually in future in our Blog.
Case 1: A snake rescuer bitten by cobra on his right ring finger. His finger was saved from a certain amputation with early intervention of plastic surgery.
Case 2: A snake rescuer bitten by a baby Russell’s viper. His left thumb was saved by plastic surgery.
Case 3: A snake rescuer bitten by cobra; his right hand was saved with plastic surgery.
Case 4: A snake rescuer bitten by cobra; his left hand was saved with plastic surgery.
Case 5: A man was bitten by cobra; his left leg was saved with plastic surgery.
Case 6: A snake rescuer bitten by cobra; his left index finger was saved with plastic surgery.
- Remember, more the delay … more the tissues are damaged.
- If required, Plastic surgeon should be consulted in the 1st week of Snakebite.