Head injuries, more commonly referred to as traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are a concern for parents, athletes, and sports officials.
TBIs can result in disability, anxiety, depression and post-concussion syndrome, which is debilitating. Typically, a patient who shows up in the ER with a head injury will undergo a CT scan to check for trauma to the brain. New research from Wayne State School of Medicine has shown that a blood test, that checks for biomarkers that occur in TBIs can help some patients avoid the radiation exposure and expense of a CT scan. CT imaging is helpful at looking at areas of the brain that could be injured; however, the standard CT scan has 200 times the radiation exposure of a chest X-ray and some studies show a possible link between CT scans and brain tumors.
Researchers at Wayne State published their findings in The Lancet Neurology on a diagnostic blood test developed by Banyan Biomarkers Inc. The blood test developed is called the Banyan BTI for Brain Trauma Indicator. After a brain injury, the biomarkers, Ubiquitin Carboxy-terminal Hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1) and Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP), can be detected in a blood sample. The FDA approved the use of the Banyan BTI test in February of 2018 based on the findings of the study. It is the first blood test approved to diagnose TBI. Robert Welch, M.D., M.S. is the Brooks F. Bock, M.D., Endowed Professor of Emergency Medicine for Wayne State University and the author of the research. He explained, "This study is exciting for a few reasons. This is the largest study of any biomarker for TBI that has been performed in the United States and provides robustness of the findings compared to many earlier smaller studies. 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. To a certain degree, this has been a holy grail for quite some time. Once a commercially available product is released, I suspect these two biomarkers will become an important component of the clinical care of patients with head injury and suspected TBI."
Worldwide about 54 million to 60 million people will suffer a TBI each year. In the United States, the CDC figures show that more than 2.5 million people experience aTBI annually, most of which are concussions. CT scans have been the first line choice of diagnostic tests. Almost 2 million scans are performed annually, and besides the high levels of radiation involved, the imaging costs are more than $76 billion every year. The Banyan BTI could theoretically eliminate the need for about one-third of those CT scans. The study included more than 1,900 adults who were seen in several emergency departments for head injuries. If just one-third of those patients were able to avoid a CT scan, radiation exposure would be significantly reduced, and cost savings would be significant. Check out the video included here to learn more about this test.