Concussion research is continuing for new and innovative diagnosis tools. Recently, researchers in Sweden have been investigating the use of microwaves and stroke detection technology to find intracranial bleeding resulting from traumatic brain injuries/concussions.
Severe TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) can involve bleeding in the brain requiring the relieving of pressure in the skull. This surgery involves opening the skull to release the pressure and clotted blood. The neurosurgery is a life or death one. The death rate for people with intracranial bleeding from TBI increases from 30% to 90% within 4 hours of post-TBI bleeding occurring according to experts.
The Journal of Neurotrauma published a study from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden that assessed the use of stroke detection technologies to assess brain hematomas. Currently a CT scan is used to detect bleeding in the brain for concussion victims. Concussion diagnosis is inexact, wait times for CT scans can be lengthy and expensive.
We know that concussions and TBI occur in large numbers in Canada with the usual causes being sports, car accidents, workplace accidents and from military exposures. Serious concussions can cause life long debilitating symptoms, and death. Almost 10% of all trauma admissions in 2004 in Canada came from traumatic head injuries, and 91% of those people had the most severe form of TBI. 8% of those people admitted with TBI died.
Any new method of diagnosing TBI quickly and cheaply is certainly welcome. This is where the Swedish researchers determined that the Strokefinder diagnostic tool. The researchers decided to use it ‘off label’ to
“To accurately screen patients with suspected brain injury, such as stroke or due to trauma, and differentiate patients with severe injuries acutely requiring specialized care, would reduce both mortality and societal cost.”
The researchers go on to say
“Traumatic brain injury can be anything from diffuse damage, concussion or intracranial hematomas with clinical severity from minor to virtually un-survivable injuries. It can be caused by road traffic accidents or falls at home in the aging population. Patients with intracranial hematoma need rapid transfer to definite care for urgent neurosurgical decompression. In reality, many patients with severe injuries are transported to non-trauma centres and later needing transfer to trauma centres, which is associated with substantially higher mortality than a direct transport. By improving pre-hospital screening of patients requiring specialized care at trauma centres, mortality would decrease and outcome improve for these patients.”
It will be interesting to see whether this lower cost imaging device can help us to catch the worst TBIs in time to operate, and therefore save more lives.