Objectives To provide an overview of the demographic characteristics of patients with positive blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and to investigate the performance of brain CT scans in these patients.
Design Cross-sectional study.
Participants 2192 patients who had undergone a test for blood alcohol of 13 233 patients registered in the Trauma Registry System between 1 January 2009 and 31 December 2012. A BAC level of 50 mg/dL was defined as the cut-off value. Detailed information was retrieved from the patients with positive BAC (n=793) and was compared with information from those with a negative BAC (n=1399).
Main outcome measures Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) and Injury Severity Score (ISS) as well as the performance and findings of obtained brain CT scans.
Results Patients with positive BAC had a higher rate of face injury, but a lower GCS score, a lower rate of head and neck injury, a lower ISS and New Injury Severity Score. Alcohol use was associated with a shorter length of hospital stay (8.6 vs 11.4 days, p=0.000) in patients with an ISS of <16. Of 496 patients with positive BAC who underwent brain CT, 164 (33.1%) showed positive findings on CT scan. In contrast, of 891 patients with negative BAC who underwent brain CT, 389 (43.7%) had positive findings on CT scan. The lower percentage of positive CT scan findings in patients with positive BAC was particularly evident in patients with an ISS <16 (18.0% vs 28.8%, p=0.001).
Conclusions Patients who consumed alcohol tended to have a low GCS score and injuries that were less severe. However, given the significantly low percentage of positive findings, brain CT might be overused in these patients with less severe injuries.
- TRAUMA MANAGEMENT
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