Introduction: Mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) is a common neurological (neurotraumatological) diagnosis. As well as different subjective symptoms, many patients develop neuropsychological dysfunction with objective impairment of attention, memory and certain executive functions. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is not routinely used in MTBI patients despite its proven greater sensitivity and specificity in comparison with computed tomography (CT).
Methods: The patient group consisted of 30 persons with MTBI and the control group consisted of 30 sex- and age-matched healthy volunteers. Both groups underwent neurological examination, neuropsychological testing (including the Postconcussion Symptoms Scale questionnaire, PCSS) and brain MRI (the patient group within 96 h after injury).
Results: The analyzed groups did not differ significantly in terms of sex, age, or level or duration of education. MRI pathological findings (traumatic and nonspecific) were present in nine patients. Traumatic lesions were found in seven patients. Nonspecific white matter lesions were found in five healthy controls. There were significant differences between MTBI patients and controls in terms of subjective symptoms (PCSS) and selected neuropsychological tests. Statistically significant neuropsychological differences were found between MTBI patients with true traumatic lesions and MTBI patients with nonspecific lesions.
Conclusion: There is evidence that MTBI patients with true traumatic MRI lesions are neuropsychologically different from MTBI patients with nonspecific MRI lesions or normal brain MRI. These results support the hypothesis that some acute MTBI signs and symptoms have a real organic basis which can be detected by selected new MRI modalities.