Neuroimaging of brain trauma

Curr Opin Neurol. 2018 Aug;31(4):362-370. doi: 10.1097/WCO.0000000000000567.


Purpose of review: The purpose of this review is to provide an update on advanced neuroimaging techniques in traumatic brain injury (TBI). We will focus this review on recent literature published within the last 18 months and the advanced neuroimaging techniques of perfusion imaging and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).

Recent findings: In the setting of a moderate or severe acute closed head injury (Glasgow Coma Scale <13), the most appropriate neuroimaging study is a noncontrast computed tomography (CT) scan. In the setting of mild TBI, the indication for neuroimaging can be determined using the New Orleans Criteria or Canadian CT Head Rules or National Emergency X-Ray Utilization Study-II clinical criteria. Two advanced neuroimaging techniques that are currently being researched in TBI include perfusion imaging and DTI. Perfusion CT has a higher sensitivity for detecting cerebral contusions than noncontrast CT examinations. DTI is a sensitive at detecting TBI at the group level (TBI-group versus control group), but there is insufficient evidence to suggest that DTI plays a clinical role for diagnosing mild TBI at the individual patient level.

Summary: Future research in advanced neuroimaging techniques including perfusion imaging and DTI may improve the accuracy of the diagnosis and prognosis as well as improve the management of TBI.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis
  • Brain Injuries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain Injuries / therapy
  • Diffusion Tensor Imaging
  • Glasgow Coma Scale
  • Head Injuries, Closed / diagnosis
  • Head Injuries, Closed / diagnostic imaging
  • Head Injuries, Closed / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed