A blood test designed to dramatically reduce the use of brain imaging for the diagnosis of concussion has been cleared for use in the US.
In many cases, the only way for clinicians to confirm or rule out concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), is to take a look at a patient’s brain by using computed tomography (CT) – a procedure which exposes person to a possibly unnecessary intervention and radiation.
Medical industry news site Medscape reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved a blood test called the Brain Trauma Indicator that can be deployed in the first instance, saving the CT scans for confirmed cases.
The blood test measures two proteins – ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase and glial fibrillary acidic protein – that if found in blood are indicative of mild brain injury.
The maker of the blood test, Florida company Banyan Biomarkers, reported in 2015 results of a comparative trial in 1947 cases. The results showed that the blood test matched CT results for detecting intracranial lesions in more than 97% of cases – and found the absence of lesions in 99% of cases.
The accuracy of the results means that doctors using the test can confidently rule out concussion without having to put patients through the CT process.
In announcing the approval FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the blood test fitted with his organisation’s plan to reduce unnecessary radiation exposure as much as possible. It would also significantly lower costs to the health system, he added.
Andrew Masterson is a former editor of Cosmos.
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