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Brain injury diagnosis might soon have a new tool

A patient who suffers from a head injury and seeks medical care is facing the possibility of having to have a CT scan. While that isn't all too serious, the CT scan does mean that the patient is going to be exposed to radiation. Often, medical professionals are reluctant to order a CT scan in cases that are expected to be mild because of the radiation exposure. That is particularly true when children are the patients.

Even if a patient does get a CT scan, there is a chance that the image won't allow doctors to accurately diagnose a mild to moderate brain injury, such as a concussion. A blood test that was used in almost 600 patients during a study that lasted three years might do away with the need for a CT scan in these mild to moderate cases.

The blood test, which the study showed had reliable results, was done to determine if GFAP was present in the blood. This biomarker is one that is specific to the brain after a brain injury, which means that it wouldn't be present in injury cases that didn't involve the brain.

An interesting point about GFAP is that it remains in the blood for up to a week after the injury, so even if someone doesn't seek medical care right after a head injury, this blood test might still prove useful as a diagnostic method for a concussion.

Until this blood test is approved for wide spread usage, patients will still have to rely on doctors using patient history, imaging tests, and symptoms as a way to diagnose concussions. This medical care can be expensive, which might lead to some patients exercising their right to seek compensation in Pittsburgh.

Source: CBS New York, "Study: New Blood Test Can Detect Concussions Days After," March 29, 2016

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