As several studies have shown, drunk driving is significantly more likely to occur when alcohol consumption is high. Researchers hypothesized that, particularly at higher blood alcohol content levels, ethanol intoxication raises the likelihood of bladder damage and surgical repair. From 2017-2019, they combed the National Trauma Data Bank for all patients who had been in car accidents.
Patients were split into 2 groups: those who tested positive for intoxication and those who did not. Factors such as age, gender, BAC, driving status, seat belt use, drug intoxication, pelvic fracture, and Injury Severity Scale were gathered. Interaction with pelvic fracture and restraint use, as well as primary outcome measures of bladder injury and bladder surgery repair, were evaluated. In a total of 594,484 patients, 16.5% (or 97,831) tested positive for alcohol. Patients in the intoxication group had significantly higher rates of bladder injury (1% vs. 0.4%, P <.001), bladder surgical repair (0.7 vs. 0.15%, P <.001), and overall intoxication (32.8 vs. 14.6%, P <.001).
A pelvic fracture and the Injury Severity Scale both predicted that the patient would sustain bladder damage. After accounting for confounding factors, a correlation between increased blood alcohol content and both outcomes remained. Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit was a stronger predictor of bladder surgery repair than a pelvic fracture.
Alcohol intoxication was associated with both outcomes, and this link was enhanced at higher intoxication levels when using a seat belt. After a car accident, drivers who are drunk are more likely to suffer bladder injuries that require surgery to fix. When treating an intoxicated patient, especially one restrained by a seat belt, trauma doctors should be especially vigilant for bladder injuries.