What Imaging Techniques Are Used to Diagnose Traumatic Brain Injury?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the standard imaging tool used to diagnose traumatic brain injury, but other tools are being developed to "see" more.

Transcript of this video.

For diagnostic purposes, and even for characterization of the extent of the injury, we predominantly rely upon magnetic resonance imaging. This is our standard imaging modality. With an MRI, our standard measures are good at characterizing whether there has been blood, whether there has been a contusion or a bruise to the brain, or whether there is significant damage to axons that actually result in lesions that we characterize in the brain. It's also, of course, very good at tumor, at stroke, at ischemic damage. The advanced applications are really where we're going to see development in brain injury. And these include looking at blood flow and getting blood to regions of the brain--that's called MR perfusion. Or, arterial spin labeling, which is a different technique, which looks at how much blood is taken up into the tissue. But beyond that, there are applications such as MR spectroscopy. So, magnetic resonance spectroscopy is still not a reimbursable type of scan. MR spectroscopy is not an imaging technique. It actually looks at the biochemistry of tissue, so it allows us to look at neuronal integrity or axonal integrity or the amount of pathology that's present.
Posted on BrainLine May 25, 2010.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Brian King, BrainLine.

Comments (2)

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I had a TBI in February and a CT scan one week later. It showed absolutely nothing wrong.
Then another CT scan in May after head pain and seizures.
Nothing.
Then after my replacement primary physician diagnosed me only with PTSD and told me the CT scan was "absolutely definitive". She refused to order an MRI and feigned a referral to get me to a neurologist.
Her pride got the best of her !
I went over her head to another doctor to get a referral to see a neurologist and two types of MRI's.
I have a CSF leak from my 4th ventricle, a shrinking brain, an adult onset Dandy Walker variant, seizures, slow brainwaves, and leaking CSF fluid into my sinuses that is now drowning my lungs.
CT scans are worthless for closed-head TBI's if it is the sole source of imaging.
I know that advanced medicine considers general practitioners to be vanguards to advanced medicine, but in truth the idiots are guarding the gate to the neurological village, and the patient is forced to fight them just to get through.

That first doctor should be ashamed of themselves. PRide? stubborness?
Just make sure your patient is well dammit!. I"m glad you kept advocating for yourself and went to a different doctor. I hope you're doing better now. I learned so much from your story. So many people with TBI unfortunately die or end up disabled due to be misdiagnosed and sent home. I'm glad you fought for yourself!!