The Brain Trauma Indicator works by measuring proteins, known as UCH-L1 and GFAP, released from the brain into blood 12 hours following after head injury.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently permitted the first blood test to evaluate concussions in adults — or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The availability of a blood test for concussion will help determine the need for a CT scan in patients suspected of having mTBI and help prevent unnecessary neuroimaging and associated radiation exposure.
As the FDA explained, the “availability of a blood test for mTBI/concussion will likely reduce the CT scans performed on patients with concussion each year, potentially saving our healthcare system the cost of often unnecessary neuroimaging tests.” There are about three million mTBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. every year.
The test — being marketed as the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator — is an improvement over the current, most common method of evaluating mTBI. Nowadays, most patients with a suspected head injury are examined with the 15-point neurological Glasgow Coma Scale, followed by a CT scan of the head to detect brain tissue damage that may require treatment. However, a majority of patients evaluated for mTBI/concussion don’t have detectable intracranial lesions. Instead, the new blood test measures levels of proteins that are released from the brain into blood.
A blood test offers a safer, less costly and more dependable way to evaluate mTBI — a welcome tool in the treatment of concussions. Whether the trauma involves a football linebacker or an elderly person who’s fallen, the Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator promises to change the standard of care involving millions of insurance-related claims annually.