Effect of alcohol in traumatic brain injury: Is it really protective?

Viraj Pandit, Nikita Patel, Peter Rhee, Narong Kulvatunyou, Hassan Aziz, Donald J. Green, Terence O'Keeffe, Bardiya Zangbar, Andrew Tang, Lynn Gries, Randall S. Friese, Bellal Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Background Studies have proposed a neuroprotective role for alcohol (ETOH) in traumatic brain injury (TBI). We hypothesized that ETOH intoxication is associated with mortality in patients with severe TBI. Methods Version 7.2 of the National Trauma Data Bank (2007-2010) was queried for all patients with isolated blunt severe TBI (Head Abbreviated Injury Score ≥4) and blood ETOH levels recorded on admission. Primary outcome measure was mortality. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed to assess factors predicting mortality and in-hospital complications. Results A total of 23,983 patients with severe TBI were evaluated of which 22.8% (n = 5461) patients tested positive for ETOH intoxication. ETOH-positive patients were more likely to have in-hospital complications (P = 0.001) and have a higher mortality rate (P = 0.01). ETOH intoxication was an independent predictor for mortality (odds ratio: 1.2, 95% confidence interval: 1.1-2.1, P = 0.01) and development of in-hospital complications (odds ratio: 1.3, 95% confidence interval: 1.1-2.8, P = 0.009) in patients with isolated severe TBI. Conclusions ETOH intoxication is an independent predictor for mortality in patients with severe TBI patients and is associated with higher complication rates. Our results from the National Trauma Data Standards differ from those previously reported. The proposed neuroprotective role of ETOH needs further clarification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)634-639
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • Alcohol intoxication
  • Complications
  • Mortality
  • National trauma data bank
  • Severe traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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