A study indicates that doctors could diagnose brain injuries using a blood test

ROCHESTER — A revolutionary way to test for brain injuries has been studied at the University of Rochester Medical Center. It was published in The Lancet Neurology on Wednesday.

“For the first time in the U.S., a blood test will be available to help doctors determine if people who’ve experienced a blow to the head could have a traumatic brain injury such as brain bleeding or bruising,” stated URMC in a press release Wednesday.

It goes on to explain, “until this point, physicians have relied on subjective markers — mainly patient-reported symptoms such as headaches, nausea, or light sensitivity — to make an educated 'guess' on which individuals have brain trauma and require a head CT scan.”

This is especially important as some athletes may hide those symptoms in order to keep playing.

“Many concussion patients don’t seek medical care for their injury, a decision due in part to the perception that emergency departments have nothing to offer in terms of diagnosis,” stated lead study author Jeffrey J. Bazarian, M.D., M.P.H., in the study’s press release.

Bazarian is a professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

He added, “the results of this study show that we now have something to offer — a brain biomarker blood test. The ability of this test to predict traumatic injuries on head CT scan will soon allow emergency physicians to provide patients with an unbiased report on the status of their brain.”

It could also cut down on emergency room wait times.

“[The U.S. has] long waits in Emergency Departments. One of the choke points is the use of the CT scan because the scanner is used for everything; head, neck, chest, abdomen injuries," Bazarian explained.

He said every year there are more than 2.5 million visits to the ED for brain injuries and concussions in the U.S, adding that, “over 20 million head CT scans are done. Ninety percent of those scans come back normal.”

He believes having the blood test available for certain patients could cut down the number of those scans by one third.