The official website of the U.S Military Health System and the FDA have green lit a new blood test that could be revolutionary in determining the presence of a traumatic brain injury. This blood test, trademarked as the Brain Trauma Indicator (BTI), is the first of its kind and was funded by the U.S Department of Defense and the U.S Army.
Florida based biomarkers created the BTI blood test, which was designed to detect two specific protein markers; Ubiquitin Carboxy-terminal Hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1) and Glial Fibrilliary Acidic Protein (GFAP). Both of these proteins appear in blood, at elevated levels, up to 12 hours after a head injury significant enough to cause brain bleeding.
When the brain bleeds, it causes hematomas (large clots) in or around the brain. A lot of times, the initial bleeding is not noticed by the sufferer. If these hematomas are left untreated, they can swell so large that they cause the brain to shift position within the skull. This shifting creates damage to the skull, which is often fatal.
In the past, visual examinations of the patient and period of questioning were the only tools used to detect abnormal brain function. However, there were many instances where patients with brain bleeds were able to pass these tests, leading to deaths minutes or hours after being cleared.
The best way to prevent deaths from brain bleeds is to quickly get the sufferer into surgery, where doctors can immediately begin removing blood and relieving the pressure on the brain. This new blood test hopes to eliminate undiagnosed brain bleeding and unnecessary deaths.
The two proteins this test detects, UCH-L1 and GFAP, are only present in elevated levels when a brain bleed is likely and not during a mild traumatic injury (like a concussion). Creators say the test will quickly be able to let doctors know whether or not an individual has suffered a head injury that requires immediate medical intervention.
This test may also help prevent the need for a CT scan on the brain, which subjects the brain to radiation.
The BTI was originally created for military use, and in the past decade over 375,000 service members have been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury.
News of this test comes shortly after Temple University announced they are also working on a blood test to diagnose traumatic brain injuries. However, Temple’s test is designed to detect microscopic changes in cells inside the brains blood vessels-which would be geared more towards diagnosing injuries to the brain which have a high probability of leading to chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
The Brain Trauma Indicator has the potential to save lives that may have otherwise gone unnoticed with verbal and visual testing.
Samantha Heffernan is a Miami personal injury blogger. She has been blogging about dangerous intersections, car accidents, medical negligence and other related injuries in Miami for several years.