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new research

Blood test to help detect brain damage

Published tisdag 10 maj 2011 kl 10.35
A blood test can save the patient from a sometimes dangerous examination. Photo: Scanpix. Montage: Sveriges Radio.

A simple blood test may save a patient suffering from concussion expensive and sometimes dangerous examination - and save the already over-burdened medical system millions of dollars.

This has been revealed at an international medical conference now underway in the southern Swedish university city of Lund.

Patients believed to be suffering from a concussion are difficult to diagnose and the tests are not only costly and possibly risky - it is also vital to get the right answers in time.

Speaking with Swedish Radio news, Swedish specialist Johan Undén says the blood test can mean a great saving for the patient, who otherwise has to undergo a lot of radiation - especially risky for young children.

He adds that the brain itself has always been especially difficult to examine - but the new discovery entails tracking a special protein in the blood released in a concussion - when the head suffers violent shaking or hard contact in an accident or physical assault.

Some 25,000 people are brought into the Swedish hospital system each year with suspected concussions - usually having to submit to datamografi or x-rays.

Johan Undén says this may seem elementary for a normal adult facing an x-ray or two - but he adds that repeated x-rays for a new-born child for example is downright dangerous.

He adds that half of the patients suspected of having a concussion are under the influence of alcohol - and that it's not easy to get a violent, drunken patient to sit still for a brain scan:

Also at the international conference in Lund, Swedish neuro-surgeon Bertil Romner praises the blood test as valuable weapon dealing with strokes.

He says the blood test could give us a quick answer weather the patient is suffering merely from a concussion or a life-threatening blood clot in the brain – each requiring totally different treatment … as the clock and the grim reaper tick off those crucial seconds.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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