CTE detected for 1st time in living patient

Scans performed on retired NFL players have led researchers in Chicago to believe they may be one step closer to being able to diagnose CTE while a patient is still alive.
1:15 | 11/16/17

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Transcript for CTE detected for 1st time in living patient
We turn to what could be a major pedicle breakthrough to help diagnose and treat the brain injury cte. We've seen so many cases in the NFL, one of the worst Aaron Hernandez. It's always been diagnosed after an autopsy but researchers have now confirmed that they detected it in a living patient for the first time. Chief medical correspondent Jen Ashton here to explain. What's the significance? This is the actual case report here. Potentially big news in the process of diagnosing cte which as you mentioned can occur with severe or repeated traumatic brain injury. This time they used something called a P.E.T. Scan which shows the brain activity as it uses glucose and found there was good correlation between that imaging test and then the findings of this patient on autopsy. In particular, the presence of towel proteins that clog the connections between nerve cells. One of the big question, would this test be readily accessible to younger at wleets. Not yet ready for prime time. Need to do a lot more research. If you think about the steps of prevention, of brain injury, diagnosis and manageable treatment and cure the way we diagnose is critical. If it were as easy to diagnose cte as it is to diagnose a broken bone with an x-ray we could be a lot more aggressive with treatment. Something to keep an eye on. Jen Ashton, thanks very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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