Blood test determines concussion severity, gets FDA approval

The FDA has announced approval of a blood test that helps determine the severity of a concussion. The blood test isn't a substitution for existing diagnostic methods, such as giving the patient a CT scan, but can help determine whether a concussion has happened and whether a CT scan is necessary. The test can be used to reduce radiation exposure to patients.

The blood test helps fill a need when it comes to diagnosing concussions. According to the FDA, many patients who suffer a concussion, also known as mild traumatic brain injury, don't have any detected intracranial brain lesions, which makes a CT scan uncessary. Doctors also traditionally use the 15-point Glasgow Coma Scale for diagnosing concussions.

The FDA has approved the blood test for concussions as part of its Initiative to Reduce Unnecessary Radiation Exposure from Medical Imaging. If a blood testing option is available, and given the lack of discernible lesions concussion patients may have, the test may be a preferred option combined with the Glasgow Coma Scale versus a CT scan.

The blood test works by looking at the UCH-L1 and GFAP proteins in a patient's blood. These proteins are released by the brain, and the levels can help doctors determine whether a concussion is present. Most importantly, the blood test helps doctors determine if the patient is likely to have visible lesions that a CT scan can pick up, helping them decide whether a scan is necessary.

Talking about this is the FDA's Jeffrey Shuren, MD, who said:

The FDA's review team worked closely with the test developer and the U.S. Department of Defense to expedite a blood test for the evaluation of mTBI that can be used both in the continental U.S. as well as foreign U.S. laboratories that service the American military.