Background: The purpose of this manuscript is to present the findings in the largest series of SPECT brain perfusion imaging reported to date for mild or moderate traumatic brain injury.
Patients and methods: This is a retrospective evaluation of 228 SPECT brain perfusion-imaging studies of patients who suffered mild or moderate traumatic brain injury with or without loss of consciousness (LOC). All patients had no past medical history of previous brain trauma, neurological, or psychiatric diseases, HIV, alcohol or drug abuse. The patient population included 135 males and 93 females. The ages ranged from 11-88 years (mean 40.8). The most common complaints were characteristic of the postconcussion syndrome: headaches 139/228 (61%); dizziness 61/228 (27%); and memory problems 63/228 (28%). LOC status was reported to be positive in 121/228 (53%), negative in 41/228 (18%), and unknown for 63/228 (28%).
Results: Normal studies accounted for 52/228 (23%). For abnormal studies (176/228 or 77%) the findings were as follows: basal ganglia hypoperfusion 338 lesions (55.2%); frontal lobe hypoperfusion 146 (23.8%); temporal lobes hypoperfusion 80 (13%); parietal lobes hypoperfusion 20 (3.7%); insular and or occipital lobes hypoperfusion 28 (4.6%). Patients' symptoms correlated with the SPECT brain perfusion findings. The SPECT BPI studies in 122/228 (54%) were done early within 3 months of the date of the accident, and for the remainder, 106/228 (46%) over 3 months and less than 3 years from the date of the injury. In early imaging, 382 lesions were detected; in 92 patients (average 4.2 lesions per study) imaging after 3 months detected 230 lesions: in 84 patients (average 2.7 lesions per study).
Conclusions: Basal ganglia hypoperfusion is the most common abnormality following mild or moderate traumatic brain injury (p = 0.006), and is more common in patients complaining of memory problem (p = 0.0005) and dizziness (p = 0.003). Early imaging can detect more lesions than delayed imaging (p = 0.0011). SPECT brain perfusion abnormalities can occur in the absence of LOC.