Identifying chronic heavy alcohol use in emergency general surgery patients: A pilot study

Maher M. Matar, Brent Jewett, Samir M. Fakhry, Dulaney A. Wilson, Pamela L. Ferguson, Raymond F. Anton, Joseph V. Sakran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background Chronic heavy alcohol (CHA) use has been associated with perioperative complications. Emergency general surgery (EGS) patients are not routinely screened for CHA. If screened, it is usually for hazardous use of alcohol, using a survey such as the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). This study screened EGS patients for CHA use using serum carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (%dCDT) level, a biomarker that has been validated as an indicator for CHA use, as well as the AUDIT. The purpose of this study was to determine the percent of EGS patients with CHA (as indicated by elevated %dCDT), and the relationship between %dCDT and AUDIT. Secondary aims included comparing the characteristics of EGS patients with and without CHA use, and evaluating the association of CHA use with negative clinical outcomes. Methods EGS patients aged 21 and older admitted to the general surgery inpatient service of a tertiary hospital from July 2014 to June 2016 were invited to participate in this study. %dCDT levels above 1.7% were considered positive for CHA use, as were AUDIT scores ≥8. Results 195 EGS patients were screened for inclusion and 91 (46.7%) agreed to participate. 14 (15.4%) were positive for hazardous alcohol use on AUDIT and 5 (5.5%) were positive for CHA by %dCDT. Positive predictive value of AUDIT for CHA was 21.4%. There was no correlation between positive scores on AUDIT and %dCDT. Discussion Identifying at risk patients early on in their hospital course may allow clinicians to institute treatments to mitigate and/or circumvent complications in such patients. This pilot study determined that 17.6% of participating EGS patients were positive for some type of alcohol misuse, but only 5.5% had CHA. Further research is needed to determine whether routine use of %dCDT would be beneficial in reducing perioperative complications in this patient population. Level of evidence III (diagnostic test).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere000098
JournalTrauma Surgery and Acute Care Open
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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