Pressure Immobilisation Technique

The Pressure Immobilisation Technique (PIT) was introduced for the treatment of Australian snake bites and it is also recommended for envenomation by a number of other animals.  The PIT retards the flow of lymph, by which venoms gain access to the circulation.

It has also been shown that there may be inactivation of certain venoms and venom components when the injected venom remains trapped in the tissues by the pressure bandage.

The Pressure Immobilisation Technique (PIT) is recommended for application to bites and stings by the following creatures:

  • All Australian venomous snakes, including sea snakes.
  • Funnel Web spider
  • Blue-ringed octopus
  • Cone shell

The Pressure Immobilisation Technique is NOTrecommended for the first aid management of:

  • Other spider bites including redback.
  • Jellyfish stings
  • Fish stings including stonefish bites.
  • Stings by scorpions, centipedes or beetles

PIT Technique

If resuscitation is needed it takes precedence over the PIT. However, the resuscitation team should apply PIT as soon as possible to potentially minimise further venom flow.

If on a limb, apply a broad pressure bandage over the bite site as soon as possible. Elasticised bandages (10-15cm wide) are preferred over crepe bandages, if neither are available, clothing or other material should be used. The bandage should be firm and tight, you should be unable to easily slide a finger between the bandage and the skin.

In order to assist in immobilisation of the limb, apply a further pressure bandage, commencing at the fingers or toes of the bitten limb and extending upward covering as much of the limb as possible. The bandage should be applied over existing clothing if possible.

Splint the limb including joints on either side of the bite, to restrict limb movement.

Keep the victim and the limb completely at rest. Bring transport to the victim is possible.

Transport the victim to medical care, preferably by ambulance. If alone, the victim should apply the pressure immobilisation bandage as completely as possible over the bite site and affected limb. They should keep immobile until assistance arrives. If they are unable to obtain urgent help to come to them, then apply local pressure if possible, immobilisation is contraindicated, and they should move themselves to seek urgent help.

Do not remove the bandages or splints before evaluation in an appropriate hospital environment.

If the bite is not on the limb, firm direct pressure on the bite site may be useful. Do not restrict breathing or chest movement and do not apply firm pressure to the neck or head.

DO NOT:

  • Cut or incise the bitten area or attempt to suck venom from the bite site.
  • Wash the bitten area.

Apply an arterial tourniquet. (Arterial tourniquets that cut off circulation to the limb, are potentially dangerous and are not recommended for any type of bite or sting in Australia)