FDA Approves First Blood Test for Head Injuries

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. concussion / kənˈkʌʃ ən / (n) – an injury or damage to the brain caused by a fall or a hit to the head

    Helmets can help prevent concussions.

  2. eliminate / ɪˈlɪm əˌneɪt / (v) – to completely remove or get rid of something

    The team was eliminated during the first round.

  3. accurately / ˈæk yər ɪt li / (adv) – in a manner that is correct

    You need to input all the data accurately.

  4. traumatic / trəˈmæt ɪk / (adj) – relating to severe physical injury caused by violence or an accident

    The company creates protective equipment to avoid traumatic head injuries at construction sites.

  5. suspected / ˈsʌs pɛk tɪd / (adj) – believed to exist or to be true

    He had to go to the doctor for a suspected heart problem.


Read the text below.

A rapid blood test for detecting concussions has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The test was created by medical device manufacturer Abbott Laboratories. According to its developers, the rapid test is handy and could eliminate the need for expensive computerized tomography (CT) scans to assess head injuries.

Dr. Beth McQuiston, a medical director at Abbott Laboratories, said that more than 100 scientists spent seven years developing the new test. The procedure can accurately detect positive results 95.8% of the time and negative results 99% of the time.

The test works by measuring the amount of protein in the blood after a traumatic brain injury. It can yield results in 15 minutes. If the blood test detects little to no trace of protein, it is unlikely that the patient has any damaged tissue. Dr. McQuiston said that such a result assures patients that they can safely skip further examinations. However, if patients have high amounts of protein in their blood, they still need to go through CT scans.

The test can only be used on patients with suspected mild concussions and not those with severe injuries or symptoms.

Dr. McQuiston said that the cost of the test will be much lower than the cost of a CT scan. She added that Abbott Laboratories was working to have the tests distributed to hospitals and emergency departments as soon as possible.

Currently, the test is only approved for patients over 18, but Abbott Laboratories is planning to study its effectiveness for children.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• If you got a concussion, would you be willing to skip a CT scan if your rapid blood test result turned out okay? Why or why not?
• Should more rapid tests for other medical examinations be developed? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you trust the medical procedures conducted by hospitals in your country? Why or why not?
• Would you consider undergoing medical procedures in another country? Why or why not?