Multi-modal magnetic resonance imaging in the acute and sub-acute phase of mild traumatic brain injury: Can we see the difference?

Arnold Toth, Noemi Kovacs, Gabor Perlaki, Gergely Orsi, Mihaly Aradi, Hedvig Komaromy, Erzsebet Ezer, Peter Bukovics, Orsolya Farkas, Jozsef Janszky, Tamas Doczi, Andras Buki, Attila Schwarcz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Citations (Scopus)


Advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods were shown to be able to detect the subtle structural consequences of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The objective of this study was to investigate the acute structural alterations and recovery after mTBI, using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to reveal axonal pathology, volumetric analysis, and susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) to detect microhemorrhage. Fourteen patients with mTBI who had computed tomography with negative results underwent MRI within 3 days and 1 month after injury. High resolution T1-weighted imaging, DTI, and SWI, were performed at both time points. A control group of 14 matched volunteers were also examined following the same imaging protocol and time interval. Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) were performed on DTI data to reveal group differences. T1-weighted images were fed into Freesurfer volumetric analysis. TBSS showed fractional anisotropy (FA) to be significantly (corrected p<0.05) lower, and mean diffusivity (MD) to be higher in the mTBI group in several white matter tracts (FA=40,737; MD=39,078 voxels) compared with controls at 72 hours after injury and still 1month later for FA. Longitudinal analysis revealed significant change (i.e., normalization) of FA and MD over 1 month dominantly in the left hemisphere (FA=3408; MD=7450 voxels). A significant (p<0.05) decrease in cortical volumes (mean 1%) and increase in ventricular volumes (mean 3.4%) appeared at 1 month after injury in the mTBI group. SWI did not reveal microhemorrhage in our patients. Our findings present dynamic micro-and macrostructural changes occurring in the acute to sub-acute phase in mTBI, in very mildly injured patients lacking microhemorrhage detectable by SWI. These results underscore the importance of strictly defined image acquisition time points when performing MRI studies on patients with mTBI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-10
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013


  • MRI
  • adult brain injury
  • axonal injury
  • brain edema
  • recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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