Application of Advanced Neuroimaging Modalities in Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury

J Child Neurol. 2014 Dec;29(12):1704-17. doi: 10.1177/0883073814538504. Epub 2014 Jun 22.


Neuroimaging is commonly used for the assessment of children with traumatic brain injury and has greatly advanced how children are acutely evaluated. More recently, emphasis has focused on how advanced magnetic resonance imaging methods can detect subtler injuries that could relate to the structural underpinnings of the neuropsychological and behavioral alterations that frequently occur. We examine several methods used for the assessment of pediatric brain injury. Susceptibility-weighted imaging is a sensitive 3-dimensional high-resolution technique in detecting hemorrhagic lesions associated with diffuse axonal injury. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy acquires metabolite information, which serves as a proxy for neuronal (and glial, lipid, etc) structural integrity and provides sensitive assessment of neurochemical alterations. Diffusion-weighted imaging is useful for the early detection of ischemic and shearing injury. Diffusion tensor imaging allows better structural evaluation of white matter tracts. These methods are more sensitive than conventional imaging in demonstrating subtle injury that underlies a child's clinical symptoms. There also is an increasing desire to develop computational methods to fuse imaging data to provide a more integrated analysis of the extent to which components of the neurovascular unit are affected. The future of traumatic brain injury neuroimaging research is promising and will lead to novel approaches to predict and improve outcomes.

Keywords: children; diffusion tensor imaging; diffusion-weighted imaging; infants; magnetic resonance imaging; magnetic resonance spectroscopy; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Pediatrics*