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Blood Test Assists Physicians to Evaluate Traumatic Brain Injury

Licking Memorial Hospital (LMH) Laboratory Services offers a new blood test to assist physicians in evaluating patients with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Healthcare company, Abbott Laboratories, developed the test to provide a new, reliable result that allows a medical professional to quickly assess whether or not a patient requires a computerized tomography (CT) scan for further evaluation or if a CT scan can be safely omitted.  LMH is the third hospital in the entire nation to adopt the i-STAT Alinity TBI Plasma Test.

TBIs, including concussions, are common, and can be caused by participation in sports, slips, falls, and car crashes.  An estimated 4.8 million emergency department (ED) visits per year are the result of a patient with a TBI, and roughly 40 percent are caused by slips and falls.  Detecting the injury quickly is vital for better recovery, and often such injuries may be undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.  Currently, methods for evaluating a patient for a TBI include a CT scan, patient questionnaire, and neurological exam, which in some cases, are not diagnostic on their own.  The new blood test offers objective testing to be used in tandem with the current methods to provide a more accurate assessment of the patient.

Caused by an external force such as a forceful bump, hit, or jolt to the head or body, TBIs result in an alteration of brain function.  Some types of TBI can cause temporary or short-term problems with normal brain function, including problems with how the person thinks, understands, moves, communicates, and acts.  A more serious TBI, such as bleeding in the head, can lead to severe and permanent disability, and even death.  Signs or symptoms of a brain injury may appear immediately after the traumatic event, while others may not appear until hours, days, or weeks later.

Research has discovered that after the brain sustains an injury, certain brain-specific proteins enter the blood stream.  The TBI test measures two biomarkers in blood plasma and serum that, in elevated concentrations, are tightly correlated to brain injury.  Testing for the biomarkers in the immediate aftermath of an injury can assist the physician in deciding appropriate next steps and develop a plan to care for patients.  The test is approved for use to aid in the evaluation of patients, 18 years of age or older, presenting with suspected mild traumatic brain injury within 12 hours of injury.  If there is no elevation of the proteins in the blood, the test will show a negative result, and research has shown that a CT scan is highly unlikely to show an abnormality and can be safely omitted.  If elevated levels are present, the results of a CT scan can be used in conjunction with the test results to inform decisions about further evaluation.

The rapid diagnostic test allows ED staff to quickly triage patients with traumatic brain injuries and make a more informed decision about the safety of discharging the patient without performing a CT Scan.  According to Abbott, the TBI test can potentially reduce unnecessary CT scans by up to 40 percent.  The quick turnaround time can decrease patient wait time in the ED, clear resources for other patients, and reduce the cost of treatment.

Timely diagnosis of a head injury, including concussion, is critical for recovery.  If you or someone you know experiences the symptoms listed below after a fall or blow to the head, visit the ED as soon as possible:

  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance issues, dizziness, or blurred vision
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Irritability or easily angered
  • Overwhelming emotions
  • Sadness
  • Irregular sleep issues 
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, or foggy
  • Confusion, concentration issues, or memory problems

The i-STAT TBI blood test was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) – which has been dedicated to developing a solution for the objective detection and evaluation of TBI for more than a decade.  The DoD, through U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command’s (USAMRDC) U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA), played a critical role in developing the test run on Abbott’s i-STAT Alinity platform.

| Posted On : 1/17/2024 12:16:34 PM