Traumatic Axonal Injury: Relationships Between Lesions in the Early Phase and Diffuse Tensor Imaging Parameters in the Chronic Phase Of Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Imaging

Traumatic axonal injury (TAI), which occurs in the white matter of the brain, is a common consequence of traumatic brain injury (TBI). Using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), damage to the white matter can be classified as nonhemorrhagic or microhemorrhagic, and some DTI parameters such as fractional anisotropy (FA) can assess the degree of diffusion restriction in white matter fibers surrounding the injured area.

A recent study in Norway investigated the relationship between DTI and FA measures of white matter across different stages of TBI. Researchers administered clinical MRI to 38 TBI patients in both the early phase and the chronic phase of injury, classifying each patient’s TAI damage as either transient or persistent.

The researchers determined the following:

  • Participants with persistent white matter damage scored lower on FA values than participants with transient white matter damage.
  • Those with transient damage scored lower on FA values than healthy participants.
  • The presence and type of TAI lesions in affected white matter can significantly affect FA values.

Because the timing of TAI lesions can affect damage to white matter, early MRI intervention in TBI cases may provide clinicians with information that is crucial to creating an appropriate long-term treatment plan for each patient.

Source: Moen KG, Vik A, Olsen A, et al. Traumatic axonal injury: Relationships between lesions in the early phase and diffuse tensor imaging parameters in the chronic phase of traumatic brain injury. Journal of Neuroscience Research. (June 2016).

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