3D MRI Shows Lasting Brain Damage After One Concussion

March 12, 2013

3D MR images reveal some patients show signs of lasting structural damage to the brain after sustaining just one concussion.

3D MR images reveal some patients show signs of lasting structural damage to the brain after sustaining just one concussion, according to a study in the journal Radiology.

Mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), or concussions, make up at least 75 percent of all traumatic brain injuries, and while it is known that brain atrophy occurs after moderate or severe brain injury, not much is known about MTBI and long-term damage.

To address this issue, researchers from NYU Langone School of Medicine investigated the changes in global and regional brain volume in patients one year after sustaining a concussion. Twenty-eight patients with one MTBI (19 patients at one year) and 22 matched controls (12 at one year) underwent 3D MRI.

By evaluating regional gray matter and white matter volumes, correlated with other clinical and cognitive measurements, the researchers found that one year after concussion, there was measurable global and regional brain atrophy in the patients who had MTBI.

"Two of the brain regions affected were the anterior cingulate and the precuneal region," Yvonne W. Lui, MD, neuroradiology section chief and assistant professor at the medical school, said in a release. "The anterior cingulate has been implicated in mood disorders including depression, and the precuneal region has a lot of different connections to areas of the brain responsible for executive function or higher order thinking."

Lui cautions that these results are general and not meant to be patients specific. Further study needs to be done to investigate the long-term effects of concussions.