This is an important advance as it can dramatically reduce the use of CT scans after concussions. Not only do unnecessary CT scans waste health care dollars but they also expose young athletes to unnecessary radiation. Children and teens, compared to adults, are several times more susceptible to the effects of radiation. Emergency room personnel are under pressure to discharge patients quickly and a CT scan is fast and also serves to comfort anxious parents.
If performed within 12 hours of injury, the new blood test is almost 100% accurate in detecting hemorrhage in the brain. It does not in any way help to diagnose a concussion, as that is based on the description of the event and the patient’s symptoms.
The main drawback is that the “turnaround” time is 4 hours, an eternity for parents and for busy emergency rooms. An important goal is to get results back faster.