Serial changes in the white matter diffusion tensor imaging metrics in moderate traumatic brain injury and correlation with neuro-cognitive function

Raj Kumar, Mazhar Husain, Rakesh K Gupta, Khader M Hasan, Mohammad Haris, Atul K Agarwal, C M Pandey, Ponnada A Narayana
Journal of Neurotrauma 2009, 26 (4): 481-95
Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) that follows traumatic brain injury (TBI) is thought to be a major contributor to neurocognitive dysfunction that sometimes follows TBI. Conventional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and neuropsychological tests (NPT) were performed on 38 TBI patients [hemorrhagic DAI (H-DAI, n=8), non-hemorrhagic (Nh-DAI, n=7), with no apparent DAI on conventional MRI (NA-DAI, n=23)] with a Glasgow Coma Scale score ranging between 9 and 13. The fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) were quantified from different regions of the corpus callosum (CC), and peri-ventricular white matter (PWM) within 5-14 days and 6 months following TBI. Patients in all three groups showed decreased FA in the anterior limb of the internal capsule (ALIC) and the posterior limb of the internal capsule (PLIC), while the genu of the CC showed a decrease in the H-DAI group during the early period following TBI that persisted 6 months later, which appeared to be consistent with axonopathy. In patients without abnormalities on conventional MRI and DTI in the initial phase, a significant decrease in FA and increase in MD were observed in a few regions of the CC at 6 months, which was suggestive of demyelination/gliosis. The changes in FA and MD in the CC and PWM at 6 months follow-up showed significant correlation with some of the NPT performed in the three groups. DTI demonstrates axonopathy in the acute stage, as well as at secondary stages, at 6 months post-injury in the CC and PWM in regions of normal-appearing white matter on conventional MRI.

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