Predicting Long-Term Outcome with Diffusion Tensor Imaging

Man in Hospital Bed

Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a relatively newer diagnostic tool that measures white matter tracts in the brain and is useful for assessing axonal damage after a traumatic brain injury. Much research has shown the efficacy of DTI in the prediction of outcome after a brain injury, however, most of that research has been limited to single clinical sites. DTI, like any other technology, is vulnerable to slight changes in user technique and hardware or software disparities.

A recent study looked at the DTI scores of 105 people with severe traumatic brain injury from ten different sites to measure how well DTI could accurately predict outcome after one year. They confirmed that the probability of a negative outcome (coma or death) was highly related to higher DTI scores (higher rate of white matter damage).

It is possible to use larger DTI studies, such as this one, to create a standardized DTI prediction system that will help clinicians determine outcome potential in cases of severe traumatic brain injury.

Galanaud D, Perlberg V, Gupta R, et al. Assessment of white matter injury and outcome in severe brain trauma. Anesthesiology. (December 2012).