Acute ethanol intoxication increases the risk of infection following penetrating abdominal trauma

L. M. Gentilello, R. A. Cobean, A. P. Walker, E. E. Moore, M. J. Wertz, E. P. Dellinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Scopus citations


Acute alcohol (ETOH) intoxication as a risk factor for infection in trauma victims to our knowledge has not been previously reported. To determine if ETOH intoxication increases infection risk we examined data from 365 patients with penetrating abdominal trauma who were enrolled in a multi-center antibiotic study. Ninety-four patients sustained an injury to a hollow viscus. To separate acute from chronic ETOH effects, infections were divided into two categories: (1) trauma related; infections caused by bacterial contamination at the time of injury, while blood alcohol level (BAL) was elevated. (2) nosocomial; infections caused by bacteria acquired during hospital stay, after BAL had normalized. A BAL ≥200 mg/dL was associated with a 2.6-fold increase in trauma-related infections. There was no association between BAL and subsequent nosocomial infection. Since infection rates for intoxicated patients were not higher after BAL had normalized, acute rather than chronic effects of ETOH appear to be responsible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-675
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Trauma - Injury, Infection and Critical Care
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1993


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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