Alcohol biomarkers in patients admitted for trauma

Michael Fleming*, Bhushan Bhamb, Michael Schurr, Marlon Mundt, Andrea Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: To assess the value of blood alcohol levels (BAL) and carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) in trauma patients. Methods: A prospective study was conducted among 213 patients admitted to a university hospital after trauma. Outcomes of interest included the development of alcohol withdrawal, infections, respiratory problems, cardiac events, thromboembolism, and length of stay. Results: The majority (78%) of the trauma patients in the study was males over the age of 18. Seventy-five percent were reported drinking an alcohol-containing beverage in the previous 30 days, 34% had ≥5 heavy drinking days, and 18.7% met current DSM-IV criteria for alcohol abuse and 13.1% current criteria for dependence. Twenty-two percent (n = 48) had a positive BAL and 14% (n = 30) a CDT level >2.5%. Twelve percent (n = 27) of the sample developed alcohol withdrawal and 55% (n = 113) had one or more adverse health events during their hospitalization. The development of alcohol withdrawal was associated with an admission CDT >2.5% (K2: 4.77, p < 0.029) and/or a positive BAL (K2: 54.01, p < 0.001). The alcohol biomarkers identified 13 male and 3 female high-risk patients (7.4% of the total sample) who denied excessive alcohol use, and who would have been missed if these markers were not used. A composite morbidity trauma score composed of 25 adverse health events was associated with a positive BAL (p < 0.022). Conclusion: The study provides additional empirical evidence that supports the use of BAL in all patients admitted for trauma. The usefulness of CDT in trauma patients remains unclear and will require larger samples in more critically ill patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1777-1781
Number of pages5
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2009


  • Adverse events
  • Alcohol
  • Biomarkers
  • Trauma
  • Withdrawal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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