New Concussion Blood Test to Save Children From Radiation Exposure

A blood test which can identify whether a person has suffered a concussion could prevent children from being exposed to medical scans which emit radiation, according to a new study.

The simple procedure pinpoints a biomarker which the brain releases following an injury.

Scientists at Orlando Health found that the glial fibrillary acidic protein biomarker can remain in the patient’s bloodstream for up to a week after the brain is impacted.

By detecting the biomarker in the blood, scientists were also able to decide whether a patient needed life-saving brain surgery.

Dr Linda Papa, an emergency medicine physician and lead author of the study, Believes that the research could lead to a quantum way that the condition is dealt with in the future.

“This could ultimately change the way we diagnose concussions, not only in children, but in anyone who sustains a head injury.”

Researchers analysed nearly 600 patients over three year, and discovered that the blood test could detect mild to moderate traumatic brain lesions in adults with up to 97 percent accuracy.

Symptoms of concussion and other mild to moderate brain injuries include memory loss, blurred vision, and confusion, according to the NHS. But these sometimes take days to materialise, and can be subtle.

Dr Papa said her team’s findings could provide doctors with an important tool for simply and accurately diagnosing patients with brain injuries.

“If patients are not diagnosed properly and treated appropriately, it could lead to long-term problems. This test could take the guesswork out of making a diagnosis by allowing doctors to simply look for a specific biomarker in the blood,” she said.

While doctors seek to minimise the use of computerised tomography (CT) scans in all patients, children are particularly sensitive to the radiation and the potential side effects.

Papa also suggested that the quality of information provided by this new technique is comparable to the existing scan, and therefore must be considered preferable considering the radiation-related aspects of conventional methods.

“Fortunately, this simple blood test appears to give us nearly the same information as a CT scan. We have so many diagnostic blood tests for different parts of the body, like the heart, liver and kidneys, but there’s never been a reliable blood test to identify trauma in the brain. We think this test could change that.”

Although radiation scans are generally considered to be safe, it is known about the amount of background radiation a person is exposed to can have a serious impact on health outcomes.

Dr. John W. Gofman – who co-discovered several radioisotopes, notably uranium-233 and its fissionability, who was the third person ever to work with plutonium, and was the first chemist ever to try and isolate milligram quantities of plutonium – once stated that “background radiation is causing just as many cancers and genetic injuries as I’ve calculated for any man-made radiation.”

 

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