UMC uses new equipment for brain care

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By: Denise Olivas

EL PASO, Texas - University Medical Center will be the first hospital in Texas and the second in the nation to use Brainscope, a medical neuro-technology to help identify the severity of a brain injury.

It is a noninvasive technology that uses electroencephalogram, or EEG, a test that records brain wave patterns.

Brainscope picks up the electrical current within the brain tissue within a five to ten minute span and minutes after doctors will get results. The patient feels nothing during the test.

The technology doesn't neccessarily replace a CT scan, but it helps doctors determine if they should move forward with further testing to determine if a head injury has resulted in any bleeding in the brain or injury to the brain tissue. A CT Scan can take nearly two hours to get results.

"For patient care, it's going to help with getting them seen sooner, get treatment quicker, and get discharged back home in a more timely manner," said Eric Johansen, a registered nurse at UMC's emergency department.

UMC teamed up with Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center to bring Brainscope to El Paso, it was paid for by the UMC Foundation. UMC was chosen to be one of ten sites to launch Brainscope.

While some urgent care centers have been using it since February, UMC will be the only hospital in El Paso.

"By using Brainscope, we could avoid many of the CT Scans we do now," said Dr. Edward Michelson, professor and chair of Emergency Medicine at the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine.

There is still no set price of Brainscope for patients and has not yet been approved by insurance companies as a billable test.

It would only cost UMC $175 per Brainscope test as opposed to the thousands it costs for a CT Scan.

Brainscope is only FDA approved for patients ages 18 to 85, but clinicals are underway to get it approved for children.

Dr. Michelson believes Brainscope could soon be used by major sports teams like the NFL.

"Teams will have access and can choose to use this device on the field so that if a player does have an injury and there's a concern for concussion, they could be assessed immediately," Dr. Michelson said.

"We're really excited to be able to do this for our citizens, especially as the only level one trauma center in El Paso."