A blood test for TBI may have potential for reducing CT scans in emergency departments, a new study has found.
A small study published online in Annals of Emergency Medicine found that patients with TBI had significantly higher blood levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) than patients without these injuries.
“This test has the potential for determining injury severity soon after injury, helping emergency physicians make decisions about performing CT scans, seeking neurological consultations and transferring patients to other facilities,” said lead study author Linda Papa, MDCM, MSc, of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Orlando Regional Medical Center in Orlando, Fla, in a statement. “We can perform blood tests now for heart attack, and hope to be able to do the same for traumatic brain injury. It is not a substitute for all CT scans, but it could possibly rule out patients who do not need them, as well as ensure that patients at risk get CT scans they need.”
The study authors wrote that 62 million CT scans are performed annually in the US according to recent estimates. Although increasing CT use has improved diagnostic capabilities and reduced hospital admissions, it has also raised “concern over unnecessary exposure to ionizing radiation,” they said.
For the study the researchers drew blood within 4 hours of injury on 307 patients, of whom 108 had suspected traumatic brain injuries. According to a release on the study, researchers found a significant difference in the levels of GFAP between patients with TBI and control patients, which included other trauma patients without head injuries.
“Patients with positive findings on CT scans had significantly higher levels of GFAP than patients without such findings,” the release stated. “Researchers found that a blood level of 0.035 GFAP captured all patients with lesions on their CT scans.”
The study, “Elevated Levels of Serum Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein Breakdown Products in Mild and Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury Are Associated with Intracranial Lesions and Neurosurgical Intervention” can be found at http://bit.ly/hgLEZu.
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