The importance of early bedside echocardiography in children with scorpion envenomation

Shaul Sofer, Nili Zucker, Natalya Bilenko, Aviva Levitas, Eli Zalzstein, Doron Amichay, Merav Cohen-Lahav, Tamar Bernstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Scorpion sting may cause myocardial injury and heart failure (HF). Clinical signs of failure may develop several hours or even days after the sting, while electrocardiography (ECG) and blood examination soon after the sting may be normal. We sought to examine whether normal echocardiographic (echo) examination performed shortly after hospital arrival would exclude subsequent HF. We also sought to check if blood troponin and natriuretic peptide values measured shortly after arrival may predict or exclude subsequent HF. Natriuretic peptide activities have not been measured in scorpion sting victims. We also wanted to check if HF occurs in envenomated young infants. In a 3-year prospective study we looked at the demographic, clinical, laboratory, ECG, and echo data of all patients with general envenomation who arrived at the emergency department (ED) after scorpion sting. Clinical, laboratory, ECG, and echo results on arrival and 24 h after arrival were checked and compared between groups of patients with normal and abnormal echo on arrival. We then looked for differences in clinical course, therapy, and outcome between groups. The study included 98 children aged 80 days to 19 years (median 53.1 months), 25 were below the age of 2 years. Envenomation by the " yellow scorpion" Leiurus quinquestriatus was suspected in 74 cases. Median time between sting and ED arrival was 80 min. Echo was performed on arrival in 93 of the 98 patients, (in 5 occasions it was not performed or not recorded) 74 were normal and 19 were abnormal. Abnormal echo included hypokinesia and low fractional shortening and ejection fraction of the left ventricle. Clinical signs, abnormal ECG, and laboratory results were not discriminative between groups on arrival. Mean troponin T was higher in patients with abnormal echo, but within normal range in 13 of the 19 patients with abnormal echo and above normal in 2 of the 74 patients with normal echo - missing sensitivity and specificity. Mean N-terminal pro B-type natriuretic peptide was above normal in both groups but within normal range in 5 patients with abnormal echo and above normal range in 24 patients with normal echo - missing sensitivity and specificity. None of the patients with normal echo had subsequent HF and none of the children younger than 2 years of age had HF. All patients survived the intoxication and were discharged home without sequel. We conclude that early echo examination is an important procedure. In our study, normal examination excluded subsequent HF. Abnormal examination accelerated cardiac therapy which might have contributed to our favorable outcome. HF did not occur in infants younger than two years of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2013


  • Echocardiography
  • Myocardial injury
  • Natriuretic peptides
  • Pediatrics
  • Scorpion sting
  • Troponin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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