This is really pretty amazing. The FDA has approved the first ever concussion blood test. The test can be used to diagnose a concussion within the first 12 hours after an injury, with results in as few as 3-4 hours. Before this test, concussions were routinely diagnosed after someone exhibited symptoms, or underwent a CT scan. But waiting for symptoms to present can be risky. And scans don’t always detect a concussion. Not to mention, CT scans are incredibly expensive, especially for families or individuals without health insurance.

The concussion blood test will eliminate the need for CT scans in at least one third of patients in whom concussions are suspected.

After a brain injury, two proteins are released and pass through the brain-blood barrier. These proteins can be detected using the new blood test as soon as 15-20 minutes after an injury occurs. Rather than waiting for symptoms to present, or sending a patient for a costly scan, doctors can diagnose a concussion within a few hours of a brain injury. The impact of this kind of diagnostic tool is enormous.

Banyan Biomarkers is the company behind the concussion blood test.

Says Hank Nordhoff, chairman and CEO of the company, “Over 90% of CT scans (for concussion) are negative. And you get 200 times the radiation of a chest X-ray. It’s expensive; it’s not terrific.” By eliminating the need for expensive tests, doctors can more effectively diagnose and treat brain injuries. Compared to a CT scan, the test is 97.5% effective at detecting a concussion. It’s 99.6% in ruling one out.

As of now, the test will be available in hospitals. It’ll cost around $150 to administer, versus $800-1500 for a CT scan. Nordhoff hopes that a handheld device that performs the test will be available commercially in the near future.

(Image: iStock/Belyjmishka)