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New blood test may help diagnose severe brain injuries, researchers say

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 11:08 AM MST
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(CNN) - The traditional way of diagnosing a problem is a CT scan, but researchers said in a new study a blood test can help doctors decide if a CT scan is needed for patients with mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions.

”Ten percent of these patients actually have a significant injury on their CT scan, so it’s important for us to find those 10% and make sure we get a CAT scan on them so they can be treated promptly,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Linda Papa.

Papa, who is also an emergency medicine physician at Orlando Health, looked at the accuracy of the test.

By identifying two biomarkers, doctors can also reduce the need for CT scans for everyone who goes to the hospital with mild brain injuries, reducing their radiation exposure.

Papa said that is especially important for children, who are vulnerable to the effects of radiation.

”As children grow, you don’t want to expose them to unnecessary ionizing radiation because they’re growing. Their cells are changing,” Papa said.

In the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019, about 15% of all U.S. high school students reported a sports or recreation-related concussion in the preceding year.

Papa said the biomarkers used in the blood test have been studied for 20 years. The process has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and is being used in clinical practice.

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