The use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the subacute evaluation of athletes recovering from single and multiple mild traumatic brain injury

J Neurotrauma. 2012 Sep;29(13):2297-304. doi: 10.1089/neu.2011.2294. Epub 2012 Aug 17.


Advanced neuroimaging techniques have shown promise in highlighting the subtle changes and nuances in mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) even though clinical assessment has shown a return to pre-injury levels. Here we use ¹H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (¹H-MRS) to evaluate the brain metabolites N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), choline (Cho), and creatine (Cr) in the corpus callosum in MTBI. Specifically, we looked at the NAA/Cho, NAA/Cr, and Cho/Cr ratios in the genu and splenium. We recruited 20 normal volunteers (NV) and 28 student athletes recovering from the subacute phase of MTBI. The MTBI group was categorized based upon the number of MTBIs and time from injury to ¹H-MRS evaluation. Significant reductions in NAA/Cho and NAA/Cr ratios were seen in the genu of the corpus callosum, but not in the splenium, for MTBI subjects, regardless of the number of MTBIs. MTBI subjects recovering from their first MTBI showed the greatest alteration in NAA/Cho and NAA/Cr ratios. Time since injury to ¹H-MRS acquisition was based upon symptom resolution and did not turn out to be a significant factor. We observed that as the number of MTBIs increased, so did the length of time for symptom resolution. Unexpected findings from this study are that MTBI subjects showed a trend of increasing NAA/Cho and NAA/Cr ratios that coincided with increasing number of MTBIs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Athletes*
  • Athletic Injuries / complications
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Concussion / complications
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis*
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Recovery of Function / physiology*
  • Recurrence
  • Trauma Severity Indices
  • Young Adult