Background: While traumatic brain injury (TBI) is recognized as a risk factor for dementia, there is lack of clinical tools to identify brain changes that may confer such vulnerability. Brain MRI volumetric quantification can sensitively identify brain atrophy.
Objective: To characterize regional brain volume loss in persons with TBI presenting with cognitive impairment.
Methods: IRB approved review of medical records in patients with cognitive decline focused on those who had documented TBI histories and brain MRI scans after TBI (n = 40, 67.7±14.5 years) with volumetric quantification by applying an FDA cleared software program. TBI documentation included head trauma mechanism. Brain volumes were compared to a normative database to determine the extent of atrophy. Correlations between these regions and global tests of cognition (MMSE in n = 17, MoCA in n = 27, n = 14 in both) were performed.
Results: Multiple regions demonstrated volume loss in TBI, particularly ventral diencephalon, putamen, and pallidum with smaller magnitude of atrophy in temporal lobes and brainstem. Lobar structures showed strongest correlations between atrophy and lower scores on MMSE and MoCA. The hippocampus, while correlated to tests of cognitive function, was the least atrophic region as a function of TBI history.
Conclusion: Persons with TBI history exhibit show regional brain atrophy. Several of these areas, such as thalamus and temporal lobes, also correlate with cognitive function. Alzheimer's disease atrophy was less likely given relative sparing of the hippocampi. Volumetric quantification of brain MRI in TBI warrants further investigation to further determine its clinical potential in TBI and differentiating causes of cognitive impairment.
Keywords: Magnetic resonance imaging; traumatic brain injury; volumetric quantification.
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