Alcohol Use Disorder Is Bad for Broken Ribs: A Nationwide Analysis of 19,638 Patients With Rib Fractures

Phillip Vartan, Samer Asmar, Letitia Bible, Mohamad Chehab, Muhammad Khurrum, Lourdes Castanon, Michael Ditillo, Bellal Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Alcohol use disorder (AUD) has deleterious effects on many organ systems. The aim of our study was to assess the impact of AUD on outcomes in patients with rib fractures. We hypothesized that AUD is associated with increased risk adverse outcomes. Methods: We performed a 2013-2014 retrospective analysis of all adult trauma patients diagnosed with rib fractures from the American College of Surgeons–Trauma Quality Improvement Program database. We excluded patients who were acutely intoxicated with alcohol. Patients were stratified into two groups: AUD + and AUD -. A 1:1 ratio propensity score matching for demographics, admission vitals, injury severity, smoking status, operative intervention, and number of rib fractures was performed. Outcome measures were in-hospital complications, mortality, hospital and intensive care unit length of stay, and ventilator days. Results: We matched 19,638 patients (AUD +:9,819, AUD -:9819). Mean age was 53 ± 22y, and median injury severity score was 15[10-20]. Matched groups were similar in age (P = 0.18), smoking status (P = 0.82), injury severity score (P = 0.28), chest Abbreviated Injury Scale (P = 0.24), and number of rib fractures (2[1-4] versus 2[1-4], P = 0.86). Alcoholic patients had higher rates of pneumonia (18.1% versus 9.2%, P < 0.01), unplanned intubation (18.5% versus 9.7, P < 0.001), sepsis (10.8% versus 6.3%, P < 0.001), acute respiratory distress syndrome (12.2% versus 7.4%, P < 0.001), and mortality (8.0 versus 5.7%, P < 0.001). Patients with AUD spent more days in the hospital and intensive care unit. There was no difference in ventilator days between the two groups. Conclusions: Patients with AUD and rib fractures had higher rates of adverse events than patients without AUD. Early identification of patients with rib fractures with AUD may allow better resource allocation and help improve outcomes. Level of evidence: Level III prognostic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)556-564
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Alcohol use disorder
  • In-hospital complications
  • Mortality
  • Rib fracture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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