Toxicology Screening in Acute Spinal Cord Injury

Alien W. Heinemann*, Sidney Schnoll, Michael Brandt, Roger Maltz, Mary Keen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The validity of self‐reported intoxication at time of spinal cord injury (SCI) was examined for 88 cases at admission to an acute SCI center by comparing self‐reports with serum and urine analyses. Serum ethanol greater than 50 mg/dl was the most frequently found substance (observed in 40% of the cases) followed by urine analysis evidence of cocaine (14%), cannabinoids (8%), benzodiazipines (5%), and opiates (4%). Evidence of substances with abuse potential was found in urine for 35% of the sample. While 62% of the sample had either serum ethanol greater than 50 mg/dl or a positive urine analysis, only 42% of the sample reported being under the influence of some substance at the time of SCI. Although the relationship between these two measures was statistically significant, self‐report and toxicology analyses were discordant in 34% of the cases. These results suggest that routine drug testing at admission to an SCI center will produce both false‐negative and false‐positive results if substance presence alone is interpreted as evidence of intoxication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-819
Number of pages5
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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