Blood Ethanol Levels Are Not Related to Coagulation Changes, as Measured by Thromboelastography, in Traumatic Brain Injury Patients

Abigail J. Rao, Amber Laurie Lin, Cole Hilliard, Rongwei Fu, Tori Lennox, Ronald R. Barbosa, Susan Rowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability in trauma patients. Ethanol (EtOH) use near the time of injury may contribute to worse outcomes in these patients by exacerbating coagulopathy. There are limited data regarding the effects of EtOH on coagulation and progression of traumatic intracranial hemorrhage (TICH). Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of a prospective observational study of 168 trauma patients with TBI at an urban level 1 trauma center. Thromboelastography (TEG) was performed on admission and over the subsequent 48 hours. Demographic, physiologic, and outcomes data were collected. Computed tomography imaging of the head performed within the first 48 hours of admission was analyzed for progression of TICH. Results: Thirty-six percent of patients (n = 61) had positive blood EtOH on admission (median EtOH level = 198 mg/dL [range, 16–376 mg/dL]). EtOH-positive patients were less severely injured than EtOH-negative patients (P = 0.01). Other admission demographic and physiologic variables were similar between groups. There were no significant differences in TEG values between EtOH-positive and EtOH-negative patients on admission or during the subsequent 48 hours. There were no differences in radiographic progression of hemorrhage, the need for neurosurgical procedure, or mortality between EtOH-positive and EtOH-negative patients. Conclusions: EtOH use near the time of traumatic injury was not associated with alterations in coagulation, as measured by traditional coagulation tests or by TEG, in patients with TICH. Furthermore, a positive blood alcohol at admission was not associated with increased mortality or need for neurosurgical procedure these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e216-e222
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • Alcohol
  • Coagulation
  • Coagulopathy
  • Ethanol
  • Hemorrhage
  • Thromboelastography
  • Traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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