Objective: To determine the relative predictive value of the arterial base deficit (BD) as an indicator of intra-abdominal injury (AI) and to compare BD with other indicators (chest injuries, pelvic fractures) of AI.
Design: Retrospective case-control analysis.
Setting: University of California San Diego Medical Center.
Measurements and main results: Between January 1985 and July 1988, 3,223 blunt trauma patients were admitted, with complete records available on 3,011. Using a "best fit" multiple logistic regression, BD less than or equal to -6 was the single most important indicator of AI (P less than or equal to .0001), and the odds ratio for AI increased with each category of increasing severity of BD. Admission hypotension, major chest injury, pelvic fracture, and field hypotension (in odds ratio order) also were significantly associated with AI.
Conclusion: BD is a powerful indicator of AI. A normal BD does not exclude AI, but the presence of a BD less than or equal to -6 in a blunt trauma patient should be considered a strong indication for objective evaluation of the abdomen (ie, diagnostic peritoneal lavage).