The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship of alcohol intoxication to time-to-presentation following injury, fracture type, mechanism of injury leading to fracture, and initial diagnostic radiology interpretation performance of emergency physicians versus diagnostic radiologists in patients who present to the emergency department (ED) and are subsequently diagnosed with fracture. Medical records of 1286 patients who presented to the ED and were diagnosed with fracture who also underwent plain film or computed tomography (CT) imaging were retrospectively reviewed. The subjects were divided into intoxicated and sober groups. Patient characteristics, injury-to-presentation time, fracture location, and discrepancies between initial clinical and radiological evaluations were compared. Of 1286 subjects, 181 patients were included in the intoxicated group. Only intoxicated patients presented with head/neck fractures more than 24 hours after injury. The intoxicated group showed a higher rate of head/neck fractures (skull 23.2% vs 5.8%, face and orbit 30.4% vs 9.5%; P < 0.001) and a lower rate of extremity injuries. The rate of nondiagnosis of fractures by emergency physicians later identified by radiologists was the same in both groups (7.7% vs 7.7%, P = 0.984). While the same proportion of intoxicated patients presented more than 24 hours following injury, only intoxicated patients presented with craniofacial and cervical spinal fractures during this period. Alcohol-related injuries are more often associated with head/neck fractures but less extremity injuries. The rate of fractures missed by emergency physicians but later diagnosed by radiologists was the same in intoxicated and sober patients.
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