America’s Food and Drug Administration has given permission for the first blood test to evaluate mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in adults to be marketed.
Head injury patients have typically been assessed according to the Glasgow Coma Scale, a 15 point scale that assesses levels of consciousness, often followed by a CT scan to detect brain tissue damage, or intracranial lesions. An alternative blood test for mTBI – usually described as concussion – will help health professionals to determine the need for a CT scan, and help to prevent unnecessary neuroimaging and associated radiation exposure.
Statistics suggest there were 2.8 million TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalisations and deaths in the US in 2013; whilst TBI contributed to the deaths of nearly 50,000 people, 75% of diagnosed TBIs are assessed to be mild (or concussion).
The Brain Trauma Indicator measures the levels of specific proteins that are released by the brain into the blood within 12 hours of a head injury. The protein levels can help to predict the probability of patients having intracranial lesions visible by CT scan, informing the decision whether to perform a scan and the management of the patient’s care. The test is expected to rule out the need for a CT scan in at least a third of patients suspected of having concussion.