Imaging Cerebral Microhemorrhages in Military Service Members with Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury

Radiology. 2016 Feb;278(2):536-45. doi: 10.1148/radiol.2015150160. Epub 2015 Sep 15.


Purpose: To detect cerebral microhemorrhages in military service members with chronic traumatic brain injury by using susceptibility-weighted magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. The longitudinal evolution of microhemorrhages was monitored in a subset of patients by using quantitative susceptibility mapping.

Materials and methods: The study was approved by the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center institutional review board and is compliant with HIPAA guidelines. All participants underwent two-dimensional conventional gradient-recalled-echo MR imaging and three-dimensional flow-compensated multiecho gradient-recalled-echo MR imaging (processed to generate susceptibility-weighted images and quantitative susceptibility maps), and a subset of patients underwent follow-up imaging. Microhemorrhages were identified by two radiologists independently. Comparisons of microhemorrhage number, size, and magnetic susceptibility derived from quantitative susceptibility maps between baseline and follow-up imaging examinations were performed by using the paired t test.

Results: Among the 603 patients, cerebral microhemorrhages were identified in 43 patients, with six excluded for further analysis owing to artifacts. Seventy-seven percent (451 of 585) of the microhemorrhages on susceptibility-weighted images had a more conspicuous appearance than on gradient-recalled-echo images. Thirteen of the 37 patients underwent follow-up imaging examinations. In these patients, a smaller number of microhemorrhages were identified at follow-up imaging compared with baseline on quantitative susceptibility maps (mean ± standard deviation, 9.8 microhemorrhages ± 12.8 vs 13.7 microhemorrhages ± 16.6; P = .019). Quantitative susceptibility mapping-derived quantitative measures of microhemorrhages also decreased over time: -0.85 mm(3) per day ± 1.59 for total volume (P = .039) and -0.10 parts per billion per day ± 0.14 for mean magnetic susceptibility (P = .016).

Conclusion: The number of microhemorrhages and quantitative susceptibility mapping-derived quantitative measures of microhemorrhages all decreased over time, suggesting that hemosiderin products undergo continued, subtle evolution in the chronic stage.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Brain Injuries / complications*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / diagnosis*
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel*