Last month a blood test won FDA approval to help guide the management of patients who have suffered from a suspected concussion. By measuring two different proteins in our blood the test serves as an indicator towards the likelihood that a CT scan will show intracranial lesions.
The test won’t be able to provide a legitimate yes/no on whether a patient has suffered any specific type of brain injury, but it will be a valuable tool for doctors as they prepare patients for CT scans.
Almost all patients who suffer a head injury and have to go to the hospital will get a CT scan, but many of these scans aren’t helpful when it comes to detecting intracranial lesions. What’s so groundbreaking with the blood test is that it will potentially cut down on the amount of unhelpful CT scans that are given, and the associated radiation from those scans. If the blood test is utilized to its fullest potential then a little over one-third of patients suspected of a brain injury wouldn’t need to get a CT scan.
The blood test was made by Banyan Biomarkers, and it focuses in on the glial fibrillary acidic (GFAP) and ubiquitin carboxy-terminal hydrolase (UCH-L1) proteins that tend to be emitted moments after a neurological injury has taken place. The test has been officially called the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator.
“This is going to change the testing paradigm for suspected cases of concussions,” said Tara Rabin, an FDA spokeswoman.
Rabin also mentioned that the clinical trials for the blood test that included over 2,000 people were funded by the Defense Department whose incentive initially was to have a better evaluation tool for wounded soldiers who are in combat zones and far away from the confines of a CT scan.
The blood test should be utilized within 12 hours of the head injury, and another great aspect of the test is that the results are rather readily available and only take about 3-4 hours to obtain. The trial data also showed that the test results were 97.5% accurate in terms of identifying visible lesions that were shown on CT scans and 99.6% correct in terms of knowing if those lesions wouldn’t be apparent on a CT scan.
“These findings indicate that the test can reliably predict the absence of intracranial lesions and that healthcare professionals can incorporate this tool into the standard of care for patients to rule out the need for a CT scan in at least a third of patients who are suspected of having a brain injury,” the FDA said.
Some people believe that this blood test can be really useful for professional athletes, especially football players who put themselves at risk of high-speed collisions every game. Sideline concussion testing has been a rather tedious and confusing process for the NFL, but that’s of course because you can never be too careful with head injuries. The Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator may be just the beginnings of a legitimate way for the NFL to evaluate players for concussions in a timely manner while not putting the players at risk.
This new test to diagnose all types of concussions and head injuries quickly is more than welcomed by the medical and sports worlds.