Randy Adiwinata1, Josephine Rasidi1,
Muhammad Reza Arifianto2,
Mohammad Darwis Dahlan3,
Restu Ratnaningsih6, Erni Juwita Nelwan7
1Faculty of Medicine, Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia
2Faculty of Medicine, Hang Tuah University, Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia
3Department of Surgery, Kanujoso Djatiwibowo Hospital, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia
4Department of Neurology, Kanujoso Djatiwibowo Hospital, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia
5Department of Anesthesiology, Kanujoso Djatiwibowo Hospital, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia
6Department of Internal Medicine, Kanujoso Djatiwibowo Hospital, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia
7Division of Tropical and Infectious Disease, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Universitas Indonesia, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Introduction: Neurotoxicity manifestations following venomous snakebite may lead to lifethreatening
conditions such as respiratory muscle paralysis leading to respiratory failure and loss
of consciousness. Prompt treatments are required.
Case illustration: A-90-year-old woman presented with loss of consciousness and respiratory
failure following snakebite. On general examination, a patient was unconscious (Glasgow Coma
Score [GCS] 3) with respiratory rate 4-6 rates per minute and frequent apnea period. Her blood
pressure was 267/155 mmHg with sinus tachycardia (150 bpm) and low oxygen saturation (50-
65%). Early intubation was performed due to respiratory failure. Rapid neurological improvement
was seen after snake antivenom and anticholinesterase administration. She was discharged on the
fifth day without any neurotoxic sign.
Discussion: The respiratory failure and loss of consciousness were regarded as acute and severe
neurotoxic envenoming. Geriatric patient may have reduced respiratory capacity which may further
accelerate the respiratory failure. Neurotoxin acted at the pre- and post-synapse neuromuscular
junction. Antivenom is the only definitive therapy in envenoming. Trial of anticholinesterase should
always be conducted in neurotoxic envenoming. Early mechanical ventilation support should be
given in respiratory failure cases.
Conclusion: Antivenom administration and trial of anticholinesterase should be performed in
neurotoxicity envenoming. Mechanical ventilation should not be delayed in present of respiratory
Keywords: venomous snakebite, respiratory failure, neurotoxin, snake antivenom