Introduction: The present study aimed to detect the main regions of cerebral white matter (CWM) showing damage in the subacute phase for CO-poisoned patients with chronic neurological symptoms using voxel-based analysis (VBA) with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Methods: Subjects comprised 22 adult CO-poisoned patients and 16 age-matched healthy volunteers as controls. Patients were classified into patients with transient acute symptoms only (group A) and patients with chronic neurological symptoms (group S). In all patients, DTI covering the whole brain was performed with a 3.0-T magnetic resonance imaging system at 2 weeks after CO exposure. As procedures for VBA, all fractional anisotropy (FA) maps obtained from DTI were spatially normalized, and FA values for all voxels in the whole CWM on normalized FA maps were statistically compared among the two patient groups and controls.
Results: Voxels with significant differences in FA were detected at various regions in comparisons between groups S and A and between group S and controls. In these comparisons, more voxels were detected in deep CWM, including the centrum semiovale, than in other regions. A few voxels were detected between group A and controls. Absolute FA values in the centrum semiovale were significantly lower in group S than in group A or controls.
Conclusions: VBA demonstrated that CO-poisoned patients with chronic neurological symptoms had already suffered damage to various CWM regions in the subacute phase. In these regions, the centrum semiovale was suggested to be the main region damaged in the subacute phase after CO inhalation.