Blood Test Predicts Brain Injury Outcome

Low magnesium points to worse prognosis, researchers find

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THURSDAY, April 27, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Blood levels of magnesium in patients who've just suffered traumatic brain injury could help predict outcomes, researchers report.

A team at the University of Pittsburgh Brain Trauma Research Center measured initial blood magnesium levels in 83 patients with severe brain injuries.

They found that 35 of the patients had normal magnesium levels when they arrived at the brain trauma center, while 48 had low levels. After six months, the patients with the low serum magnesium levels had significantly worse outcomes.

"The simplest interpretation of this data would support replenishing serum magnesium levels as soon as possible in traumatic brain injury patients. However, the utility of this approach needs to be proven," researcher Dr. Martina Stippler said in a prepared statement.

It's possible that blood magnesium levels in some patients are low due to the trauma itself, suggesting that low levels are associated with a more severe brain injury than might be indicated by other clinical and radiographic tests.

The study was presented at this week's annual meeting of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons in San Francisco.

Previous research in animals found that blood magnesium levels affect secondary brain injury that occurs in the hours and days following the initial trauma.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about traumatic brain injury.

SOURCE: American Association of Neurological Surgeons, news release, April 24, 2006

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