Medical News Alert: Possible New Blood Test for Traumatic Brain Injuries

A blood test routinely used in Europe to detect traumatic brain injuries may be making some headway in the US. According to the authors of two recent medical studies, the S-100B serum protein biomarker increases rapidly after an injury. If measured within four hours of the injury, the S-100B test can accurately predict which head injury patients will suffer a traumatic abnormality. With head injuries in the news lately, the test is gaining some momentum in the U.S. medical community.

“News stories about tragic head injuries - from the death of actress Natasha Richardson to brain-injured Iraq war soldiers and young athletes - certainly underscore the need for a simpler, faster, accurate screening tool, said brain injury expert Jeffrey Bazarian, M.D., M.P.H., on the site MedicalNews.com. Bazarian is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine, Neurology and Neurosurgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and a co-author on both recent studies.

Currently, the CT scan is still the most accepted method of diagnosing traumatic brain injury in the U.S. The S-100B test, though, is much faster, taking about 20 minutes to get results and could spare many patients unnecessary radiation exposure from a CT scan.

According to MedicalNews.com, there are more than 1 million emergency room visits annually for traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the U.S. The majority of these visits are for mild injuries, primarily the results of falls and motor vehicle crashes. According to the site, the challenge for doctors is to identify which of these patients has an acute, traumatic intracranial injury, something that is not always evident, and which patients can be observed and sent home.

The recent tragic death of Natasha Richardson is one example of just such a tough clinical decision. Richardson suffered from “Talk and Die” syndrome, where, though her traumatic brain injury was not immediately apparent, she soon succumbed to intracranial injuries.

According to Bazarian’s colleague, Brian J. Blythe, M.D., the S-100B test can tell doctors critical information about how the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is functioning after a head injury. In head injuries, the BBB is a gate between the brain and peripheral circulation. This gate sometimes, but not always, opens after a traumatic brain injury. Knowing the gate’s status allows doctors to determine whether medications given will actually reach and repair the brain damage. Further, if the brain swells after damage, doctors only have a very small window of time to administer proper treatment. Though, according to Bazarian, not a cure all, the S-100B, test with its 20 minute results time, would be an effective diagnostic tool when doctors have to make tough decisions about traumatic brain injuries.

If you or anyone you know in Georgia has experienced ill-effects, up to and including death, as the result of a traumatic brain injury, you may have legal recourse. Call MLN Law at (404) 531-9700 for more information.

For more on this story:

Blood Test for Brain Injuries Gains Momentum, Medical News Today