Is carbohydrate deficient transferrin a useful marker of harmful alcohol intake among surgical patients?

Eur J Surg. 1999 Jun;165(6):522-7. doi: 10.1080/110241599750006398.


Objective: To find out whether the biological marker, carbohydrate deficient transferrin (CDT), was helpful in the detection of alcoholic patients in a surgical unit.

Design: Prospective open study.

Setting: Teaching hospital, Denmark.

Subjects: 286 men and 248 women admitted to the department of surgical gastroenterology between March and July 1996.

Main outcome measures: Specific interview about drinking and correlation with CDT concentration.

Results: 31 men (13%) and 10 women (3%) were alcoholic and at special risk of operation. The correlation between intake and CDT:transferrin ratio was 0.63 for men and 0.53 for women. The correlation between consumption and CDT was better, being 0.77 and 0.58, respectively. Younger women had the lowest correlation (0.33). Sensitivity of CDT for men and women was 100% and 80%, respectively; the specificity was 97% and 96%; the positive predictive value 82% and 44%; and the negative predictive value 97% and 99%.

Conclusion: CDT is a valid marker of harmful alcohol intake among surgical patients, except among younger women.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / blood
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Digestive System Surgical Procedures
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surgical Procedures, Operative* / adverse effects
  • Transferrin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Transferrin / analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • Transferrin
  • carbohydrate-deficient transferrin