Some injuries are harder to identify than others. When an employee breaks a leg or sprains their ankle, that injury is visible on an x-ray. While no one really wants to go through the hassle of an x-ray, sitting under the machine poses little risk to your health. That is not the case for a CT (or CAT) scan.
Risks associated with CT scans
It’s common practice today for people with a possible head injury to receive an immediate CT scan. Although CT scans are very effective, they are extremely expensive and result in high rates of radiation exposure. According to Consumer Reports, one CT scan exposes a person to the equivalent of about 200 chest x-rays.
For this reason, researchers have been seeking an alternative diagnostic tool to the CT scan. According to Forbes, they may have found it.
Predictive blood test
Forbes reports “…findings of a new study now suggest that a high sensitivity blood test can accurately and reliably determine whether a CT scan is necessary in patients with a suspected traumatic brain injury (TBI).”
What the blood test does is look for proteins that cross the brain-blood barrier into the bloodstream as a result of a head injury.
The researcher’s sample included nearly 2,000 adults who visited the ER after a head injury occurred. Each received a head CT and had a blood sample taken. The results show that “In more than 96% of the patients studied, a blood test utilizing both of these biomarkers (proteins) accurately predicted the lack of any brain injury as verified by the CT scan.”
“The study also found that up to 1/3 of CT scans could be safely avoided…”
Whenever someone hits their head, no one other than a medical professional should assess the severity of the injury. With a predictive blood test ordered first, patients can feel assured that they are receiving the treatment best suited for their injury, while minimizing unnecessary exposure to radiation.
People who have suffered work-related head injuries may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. If you have questions about a claim, speak with an experienced attorney.