New blood test to improve triage for elderly concussion patients

7 January 2020 (Last Updated January 7th, 2020 11:50)

A new blood test could accurately identify elderly concussion patients without brain tissue damage who will then not require computed tomography (CT) scan.

New blood test to improve triage for elderly concussion patients
The blood test, though, was not accurate at detecting patients who did have brain tissue damage.Credit: Image by Belova59 from Pixabay.

A new blood test could accurately identify elderly concussion patients without brain tissue damage who will then not require computed tomography (CT) scan.

According to a research paper published in January issue of AACC’s The Journal of Applied Laboratory Medicine, the blood test was 100% accurate at identifying who did not have brain tissue damage.

CT scans can be expensive and expose patients to radiation. Therefore, the reduced use of CT scans could benefit both the healthcare system and patients.

The blood test was not accurate at detecting patients who had brain tissue damage.

In early 2018, Banyan Biomarkers secured marketing clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a blood test to assess mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or concussion in adults.

The Banyan Brain Trauma Indicator measures two proteins, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and ubiquitin carboxyle-terminal esterase L1 (UCH-L1).

As the blood test was not specifically designed for elderly patients, the research team led by the University of Maryland School of Medicine Robert H Christenson aimed to determine the test in patients age 65 years or older.

As a part of the Prospective Clinical Evaluation of Biomarkers of Traumatic Brain Injury (ALERT-TBI) study, the research team analysed data from 1,959 concussion patients, who had both a CT scan and a blood test done for brain tissue damage within 12 hours of their injury.

Christenson said: “This posthoc analysis of the ALERT-TBI study further validates the utility of the mild traumatic brain injury serum assay as a rule-out test across the spectrum of adult ages, based on equivalent sensitivity and negative predictive value.

“However, the identified differences in specificity and serum GFAP / UCH-L1 values in elderly traumatic brain injury patients limits use as a rule-in test, and highlights age-specific characteristics that must be considered in the use of the predictive markers in elderly mild traumatic brain injury patients.”

The research team notes that the test should only be used as a triage tool and not as a replacement for CT scans.