BACKGROUND Secondary brain injury is the main cause of mortality from traumatic brain injury (TBI). One hallmark of TBI is intracranial hemorrhage, which occurs in 40-50% of severe TBI cases. Early identification of intracranial hematomas in TBI patients allows early surgical evacuation, and can reduce the case-fatality rate of TBI. Since pre-hospital care is the weakest part of Chinese emergency care, there is an urgent need for a capability to detect brain hematomas early. The purpose of this observational study was to evaluate the performance of a near infrared (NIR) based, device to screen for traumatic intracranial hematomas in Chinese population. METHODS Data was collected using the NIR device at the time of a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan was performed to evaluate a suspected TBI. 85 patients were included in the per protocol population. Of the 85 patients, 45 were determined by CT scan to have intracranial hemorrhage. The CT and MRI scans were read by an independent neuroradiologist who was blinded to the NIR measurements. RESULTS The NIR device demonstrated sensitivity of 95.6% (95% confidence intervals [CI] 83.6-99.2%) and specificity of 92.5% (CI 78.5-98%) in detecting intracranial hematomas larger than 3.5ml in volume, and that were less than 2.5cm from the surface of the brain. CONCLUSION These results confirm in Chinese population the results of previous studies that demonstrated a NIR based device can reliably screen for intracranial hematomas that are likely to be of clinical importance.