July 26 (UPI) -- Researchers have developed a blood test than allows some patients suspected of a heady injury to avoid a costly CT scan and exposure to radiation.
A diagnostic blood test developed by Banyan Biomarkers Inc. successfully ruled out the need for a head CT scan in a study of patients 18 years and older with suspected traumatic brain injuries. Findings from a study conducted at the Wayne State University School of Medicine were published Tuesday in The Lancet Neurology.
Each year, about 2.5 million people go to the emergency department with suspected TBI and 282,000 are hospitalized with an injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of them are concussions, including many among athletes -- though the agency notes that falls are the greatest cause for TBIs, and they make up nearly half of TBI injuries.
"This study is exciting for a few reasons," Dr. Robert Welch, a professor of emergency medicine at Wayne State, said in a press release. "Our results were the basis for the first FDA approved blood biomarker panel that will aid in the diagnosis and care of patients with mild TBI."
Soon after a brain injury, two biomarkers -- Ubiquitin Carboxy-terminal Hydrolase-L1 and Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein -- are detected in the blood.
The blood test correctly identified 99.6 percent of patients who did not have a TBI on head CT scans in 1,959 adults presenting emergency departments in the United States and Europe between December 2012 and March 2014. For just three patients, the CT scan was positive after a negative result on the blood test.
Of the participants, 6 percent had CT-detected intracranial injuries. Sixty-six percent of the patients had a positive UCH-L1 and GFAP test result, and 34 percent had a negative test result.
He noted the results were the basis for the blood biomarker panel approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
"To a certain degree, this has been a holy grail for quite some time," he said. "Once a commercially available product is released, I suspect these two biomarkers will become an important component of clinical care of patients with head injury and suspected TBI."