Blood Tests; Brain-Injured Patients Predict Death and Disability

Blood tests taken within 24 hours of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) flag which patients are likely to die and which patients are likely to survive with severe disability, according to a study headed by UC San Francisco, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan. Their results – available within minutes – may confirm the need for prompt surgical interventions or may help guide conversations with families in cases of devastating injury.

The tests, which detect two protein biomarkers, were cleared by the Food and Drug Administration in 2018 for use in determining which patients with mild TBI should undergo CT scans. High values of these biomarkers, GFAP and UCH-L1, correlate with death and severe injury, the authors state in their study publishing in The Lancet Neurology on Aug. 10, 2022.

Co-senior author of the study, Geoffrey Manley, MD, PhD, professor and vice chair of Neurosurgery at UCSF, said these blood tests are “both diagnostic and prognostic,” as well as easy to administer, swift and inexpensive.

In the study, researchers from TRACK-TBI, a UCSF-led brain injury research initiative, examined the day-of-injury blood tests of 1,696 patients with TBI, using the Abbott i-STAT Alinity, a portable blood