The effect of alcohol in isolated blunt splenic trauma

William D. Rappaport, Kenneth E. McIntyre, Charles Stanton, Richard Carmona, Donald Witzke, John Fulginitti, Charles W. Putnam, Charles L. Witte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The effect of alcohol on trauma patients is controversial, with numerous authors citing no difference in mortality in acutely intoxicated patients. The purpose of our study was to retrospectively investigate the effect of alcohol in adult patients with isolated blunt splenic injury. From 1980 through 1989, 47 adult patients with splenic trauma as the only major injury were admitted to the Trauma Service. There were 37 males and ten females with a mean age of 29 years (range, 15 to 61). Motor vehicle accidents were responsible for 44 (94%) of the injuries. Group 1 consisted of 24 patients with a mean blood alcohol level of 185 mg/dl (range, 15 to 380). In Group 2 there were 23 patients without detectable blood alcohol. There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups in age, Abbreviated Injury Severity Score, initial hematocrit, and grade of splenic injury. Hypotension was present in 13 patients (55%) in Group 1 versus six patients (26%) in Group 2 (p < 0.05). Significant abnormalities in clotting studies were present on admission in six patients (25%) in the alcohol-detected group versus one in the other group (p < 0.05). Blood transfusion requirements in the first 24 hours were significantly greater in Group 1 (mean, 3.9 units) versus Group 2 (mean, 0.5 units) (p < 0.001). If alcohol was present, there was much less chance for splenic conservation, as 18 patients (75%) underwent splenectomy versus seven patients (30%) in the nonalcohol group (p < 0.05). There was one death and this occurred in a patient acutely intoxicated who suffered a cerebral infarct. We conclude that there is an association between the presence of alcohol and increased morbidity from splenic injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1518-1520
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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