Blood test in brain injury predicts death and severe disability

Blood tests for 2 biomarkers performed within 24 hours of a traumatic brain injury indicate which patients are likely to die and which patients are likely to survive with severe disability.

The researchers set The Lancet Neurology that high levels of the biomarkers GFAP and UCH-L1 correlate with death and serious injury. The 2 tests used were approved by the FDA in 2018 to determine which patients with brain injuries should undergo a CT scan. It now appears that the biomarker tests can also be used prognostically. In addition, they are easy to perform, fast and cheap.

In the study, the researchers performed the biomarker tests on 1,696 patients with traumatic brain injuries on the day of the injury. The results were then compared with their outcomes at 6 months.

The researchers found that the blood test on the day of injury can predict which patients have a high risk of death within 6 months (87% for GFAP and 89% for UCH-L1) and which patients have a high risk of severe disability (86). % for both GFAP and UCH-L1). The tests proved less accurate in predicting incomplete recovery versus complete recovery, namely 62% and 61%, respectively.


Korley FK, et al.; TRACK-TBI Study Investigators. Prognostic value of day-of-injury plasma GFAP and UCH-L1 concentrations for predicting functional recovery after traumatic brain injury in patients from the US TRACK-TBI cohort: an observational cohort study. Lancet Neurol. 2022;21:803-13.

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