New Brain Injury Blood Test

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September 26, 2019
Edward Smith

New Brain Injury Blood Test Explored in a Study

A new brain injury blood test was recently explored in the well-respected journal, The Lancet: Neurology. This blood test is essential because the current tools that are available to detect brain injuries are limited and imperfect. If someone presents to the doctor with symptoms consistent with a TBI, the diagnostic tools are often limited to questionnaires, physical exams, and computed tomography (CT) scans.

While these tools are essential, they sometimes miss brain injuries that might have serious consequences. In some cases, individuals have recovered by the time these questionnaires and physical exams are performed. Some TBIs, such as concussions, might not show up on imaging scans.

This is why the blood test is essential. It could give doctors an additional tool to detect head and brain injuries that might have otherwise been missed.

A Serious Public Health Problem: The Scope of Brain Injuries

Studies have shown that about 5 million people visit emergency rooms across the United States annually due to concerns for a head injury. About 4 out of every 5 of these individuals will undergo a CT scan.

While it is better to err on the side of caution, a CT scan is not performed without risk. A CT scan is essentially a three-dimensional x-ray. Even though this scan is performed in seconds, there is still a significant amount of radiation that could cause problems for someone later in life. If there is a way to check for a brain injury without having to undergo a CT scan, millions of people can be spared an unnecessary dose of radiation. That is where this blood test is critical.

The Results: TRACK-TBI Brain Injury Blood Test Study

The study is titled the Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI). The study suggests that its blood test could fill a significant gap in the diagnosis of a TBI. Currently, the applicability of blood tests in head injuries is limited at best. The goal of the study was to evaluate the efficacy of biomarkers in the blood that might be used to detect a head injury.

The researchers looked at two separate proteins that can be measured in the bloodstream. These are called UCH-L1 and GFAP. When the brain is injured, the proteins are released into the bloodstream. The researchers believe that if these proteins are detected at increased levels in the blood, a head injury must have taken place.

During the study, the researchers drew blood samples from various participants without knowing who had suffered a head injury. The individuals also underwent a CT and an MRI scan. The results of the study showed that the blood test was more sensitive at detecting brain damage than the CT scan. This blood test might represent a new development in diagnosing a brain injury.

A Potentially Revolutionary Test

During the past few decades, blood tests have been developed to detect damage to the heart, kidneys, and liver. However, there still isn’t a reliable blood test for a head or brain injury. The results of this study indicate that it might be changing. By detecting these two proteins, a brain injury can be diagnosed in a matter of minutes.

There are still multiple hurdles that the test needs to clear before it can be used in hospitals. However, this test does represent a beacon of hope for millions of people who arrive at emergency rooms every year for an injury evaluation.

Watch YouTube Video: A Blood Test for Concussions? Now Possible. The video below from Medscape explains how a new blood test could change how doctors test for mild traumatic brain injury.

San Francisco Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a San Francisco brain injury lawyer. This study shows that a new brain injury blood test may be able to identify brain injuries that would otherwise be overlooked. If someone you love has been diagnosed with a brain injury due following an accident, please reach out to me today at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.

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