MR-based technique finds post-traumatic brain injury

August 1, 2006

Diffusion kurtosis imaging, a newly developed MRI-based technique, could find hard-to-detect lesions in patients with mild traumatic brain injury, according to a study presented at the 2006 International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine meeting.

Diffusion kurtosis imaging, a newly developed MRI-based technique, could find hard-to-detect lesions in patients with mild traumatic brain injury, according to a study presented at the 2006 International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine meeting. DKI could help radiologists understand persistent post-traumatic disorders affecting these patients.

Conventional diffusion tensor imaging gauges water diffusion of tissue, assuming a specific displacement distribution pattern. But water movement often contradicts this pattern, a sign of potentially anomalous tissue structure and pathophysiology.

DKI can provide an accurate means of measuring this phenomenon, said lead investigator Dr. Robert Grossman, director of radiology at New York University.

Grossman and colleagues assessed 16 patients with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) and 14 age-matched healthy control subjects using DKI on a 3T scanner. DKI showed significantly lower kurtosis rates in the thalamus of MTBI patients.

More than one million people suffer some form of mild brain injury each year. Patients show posttraumatic symptoms, including headaches, memory loss, and tingly or numb limbs, that last from just a few months to several years. The costs associated with their management are estimated at several billion dollars annually.

Standard CT or MR techniques can detect the thalamic damage responsible for diverse neuropsychological function impairment in patients with severe traumatic brain injury. But they may not be able to detect subtle thalamic lesions in patients with MTBI. DKI can find precisely these lesions during a 10-minute scan, researchers said.