Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Surgery and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research article

Emergency department spirometric volume and base deficit delineate risk for torso injury in stable patients

C Michael Dunham1*, Eilynn K Sipe2 and LeeAnn Peluso1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, St. Elizabeth Health Center, Belmont Avenue, Youngstown, OH, USA

2 Department of Surgery, Ferguson Clinic, Jefferson Road SE, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Surgery 2004, 4:3  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-4-3

Published: 19 January 2004



We sought to determine torso injury rates and sensitivities associated with fluid-positive abdominal ultrasound, metabolic acidosis (increased base deficit and lactate), and impaired pulmonary physiology (decreased spirometric volume and PaO2/FiO2).


Level I trauma center prospective pilot and post-pilot study (2000–2001) of stable patients. Increased base deficit was < 0.0 in ethanol-negative and ≤ -3.0 in ethanol-positive patients. Increased lactate was > 2.5 mmol/L in ethanol-negative and ≥ 3.0 mmol/L in ethanol-positive patients. Decreased PaO2/FiO2 was < 350 and decreased spirometric volume was < 1.8 L.


Of 215 patients, 66 (30.7%) had a torso injury (abdominal/pelvic injury n = 35 and/or thoracic injury n = 43). Glasgow Coma Scale score was 14.8 ± 0.5 (13–15). Torso injury rates and sensitivities were: abdominal ultrasound negative and normal base deficit, lactate, PaO2/FiO2, and spirometric volume – 0.0% & 0.0%; normal base deficit and normal spirometric volume – 4.2% & 4.5%; chest/abdominal soft tissue injury – 37.8% & 47.0%; increased lactate – 39.7% & 47.0%; increased base deficit – 41.3% & 75.8%; increased base deficit and/or decreased spirometric volume – 43.8% & 95.5%; decreased PaO2/FiO2 – 48.9% & 33.3%; positive abdominal ultrasound – 62.5% & 7.6%; decreased spirometric volume – 73.4% & 71.2%; increased base deficit and decreased spirometric volume – 82.9% & 51.5%.


Trauma patients with normal base deficit and spirometric volume are unlikely to have a torso injury. Patients with increased base deficit or lactate, decreased spirometric volume, decreased PaO2/FiO2, or positive FAST have substantial risk for torso injury. Increased base deficit and/or decreased spirometric volume are highly sensitive for torso injury. Base deficit and spirometric volume values are readily available and increase or decrease the suspicion for torso injury.