Studies have found that high levels of S100B, a protein that can be detected by a blood test, can help predict greater severity and worsened outcomes in brain injury patients. However, brain injury is often related to alcohol intoxication, which can make an accurate diagnosis of injury severity very difficult. Researchers have begun to investigate if blood alcohol might interfere with the accuracy of S100B testing, or if it would be a useful test in absence of a clear neurological report.
A recent study found that alcohol consumption did not generally affect S100B levels, except in cases of mild traumatic brain injury. In these cases, S100B levels were higher than expected in intoxicated patients than in sober patients. Therefore, there was a slight decrease in the accurate diagnosis of injury severity when patients had consumed alcohol. In addition, S100B was less accurate for brain injury of any severity that was complicated by loss of consciousness, post-traumatic amnesia, or an abnormal CT scan.
Lange RT, Iverson GL, & Brubacher JR. Clinical utility of the protein S100B to evaluate traumatic brain injury in the presence of acute alcohol intoxication. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (April 2011).