Biochemical Markers of Cerebral Injury in Patients with Minor Head Trauma and Ethanol Intoxication
Article first published online: 29 SEP 2008
© 1995 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine
Academic Emergency Medicine
Volume 2, Issue 8, pages 675–680, August 1995
How to Cite
Levitt, M. A., Cook, L. A. S., Simon, B. C. and Williams, V. (1995), Biochemical Markers of Cerebral Injury in Patients with Minor Head Trauma and Ethanol Intoxication. Academic Emergency Medicine, 2: 675–680. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1995.tb03617.x
- Issue published online: 29 SEP 2008
- Article first published online: 29 SEP 2008
- Received: July 19, 1994 Revision received: October 10, 1994 Accepted: November 5, 1994
- cerebral injury;
- cranial injury;
- ethanol intoxication;
Objective: To determine whether biochemical markers can selectively identify those intoxicated patients with presumed minor head injuries who are likely to have CT evidence of intracranial injury.
Methods: Patients presenting to the ED with simultaneous presumed minor head trauma and ethanol intoxication were prospectively entered into this cross-sectional study. Following phlebotomy, all patients received cranial CT. Associations between the presence of an abnormal CT scan for injury and serum levels of the following biochemical markers were sought: serum catecholamines, creatine kinase-brain band (CK-BB), and serum amylase. Serum levels are reported as mean ± SEM.
Results: Nine of the 107 patients (8.4%; 95% CI 3.9–15.4%) had evidence of intracranial injury on CT. Mean serum CK-BB (16.1 ± 3.7 vs 13.2 ± 9.6 ng/mL), serum norepinephrine (913 ± 117 vs 1,089 ± 76 pg/mL), and serum amylase (64.9 ± 14.8 vs 84 ± 4.7 U/L) levels were not significantly different in patients with and without CT evidence of intracranial injury, respectively. Mean serum epinephrine (298 ± 54 vs 167 ± 18 pg/mL; p = 0.03) and serum dopamine (218 ± 50 vs 130 ± 9 pg/mL; p = 0.014) levels were significantly elevated in the group with intracranial injury on CT. A threshold level of serum dopamine ±140 pg/mL yields a sensitivity of 89% (95% CI 52–100%) and a specificity of 80% (95% CI 70–87%) for CT-evident injury. A threshold level of serum epinephrine ±218 pg/mL yields a sensitivity of 89% (95% CI 52–100%) and a specificity of 80% (95% CI 70–87%) for CT-evident injury.
Conclusion: Elevated serum epinephrine and dopamine levels are associated with intracranial CT-evident injury for ethanol-intoxicated patients with presumed minor head injuries. The potential use of these biochemical markers to guide a more selective approach to cranial CT scanning warrants further evaluation.