Neuropathology of explosive blast traumatic brain injury

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2012 Oct;12(5):570-9. doi: 10.1007/s11910-012-0303-6.


During the conflicts of the Global War on Terror, which are Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), there have been over a quarter of a million diagnosed cases of traumatic brain injury (TBI). The vast majority are due to explosive blast. Although explosive blast TBI (bTBI) shares many clinical features with closed head TBI (cTBI) and penetrating TBI (pTBI), it has unique features, such as early cerebral edema and prolonged cerebral vasospasm. Evolving work suggests that diffuse axonal injury (DAI) seen following explosive blast exposure is different than DAI from focal impact injury. These unique features support the notion that bTBI is a separate and distinct form of TBI. This review summarizes the current state of knowledge pertaining to bTBI. Areas of discussion are: the physics of explosive blast generation, blast wave interaction with the bony calvarium and brain tissue, gross tissue pathophysiology, regional brain injury, and cellular and molecular mechanisms of explosive blast neurotrauma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blast Injuries / physiopathology*
  • Brain Injuries / complications
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / pathology*
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Explosions
  • Head Injuries, Penetrating / complications
  • Head Injuries, Penetrating / diagnosis
  • Head Injuries, Penetrating / pathology
  • Head Injuries, Penetrating / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Warfare