Alcohol Linked to Decreased Mortality After Head Injury

However, patients are more likely to have complications
By A. Agrawal, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Patients with traumatic brain injuries who test positive for alcohol are less likely to die but more likely to have complications than patients who test negative, according to a study in the September issue of Archives of Surgery.

Ali Salim, M.D., from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, and colleagues analyzed data on mortality and complications in 38,019 patients with severe traumatic brain injuries (head Abbreviated Injury Score of three or greater), where 38 percent had tested positive for ethanol in the blood.

The researchers found that ethanol-positive patients had significantly lower mortality (7.7 versus 9.7 percent; adjusted odds ratio, 0.87) but more complications (12.9 versus 9.8 percent; adjusted odds ratio, 1.28). Patients positive for ethanol were significantly younger, had a lower Injury Severity Score, and had a lower Glasgow Coma Scale score.

"Serum ethanol is independently associated with decreased mortality in patients with moderate to severe head injuries," Salim and colleagues conclude. "Additional research is warranted to investigate the potential therapeutic implications of this association."

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