Q: Some of my patients have told me about a clinician who treats insect/spider bites or stings with a stun gun, basically shocking the area around the bite. Is there any medical evidence or support for this type of treatment?
—Nancy L. Kimbrow, MD, Keene, Tex.
A: This interesting approach to treating spider bites was reviewed by Ben Welch and Gales (Wilderness Environ Med. 2001;12:111-117). They noted that during the past two decades, articles suggesting that stun guns be utilized to treat venomous bites and stings have appeared in both the lay and medical press. Although never widely considered to be the standard of care for bites and stings, some medical practitioners and outdoor enthusiasts consider stun guns to be a viable treatment option. The authors performed a MEDLINE search using the following terms: venomous bites, venomous stings, snake bites, spider bites, electrical, stun gun, high voltage electricity, low amperage electricity, direct current, and shock therapy. The conclusion was that the use of stun guns or other sources of high-voltage, low-amperage direct current electric shocks to treat venomous bites and stings is not supported by the literature.
—Jeffrey M. Weinberg, MD (98-5)