Higher sensitivity for traumatic cerebral microbleeds at 7 T ultra-high field MRI: is it clinically significant for the acute state of the patients and later quality of life?

Ther Adv Neurol Disord. 2020 Apr 13;13:1756286420911295. doi: 10.1177/1756286420911295. eCollection 2020.


Background: The present study evaluates the possible prognostic benefits of 7 T susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) of traumatic cerebral microbleeds (TMBs) over 3 T SWI to predict the acute clinical state and subjective impairments, including health-related quality of life (HRQOL), after closed head injury (CHI).

Methods: The study group comprised 10 participants with known TMBs All subjects underwent 3 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and 7 T MRI, respectively. Location and count of TMBs were independently evaluated by two neuroradiologists. The initial Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), the duration of coma and further clinical data were taken from the patients records. HRQOL was assessed by means of a questionnaire. Memory complaints and neurological symptoms were inquired at the time of the MRI examinations.

Results: SWI revealed a total of 485 TMBs at 3 T, 584 TMBs at 7 T with similar spatial resolution, and 684 TMBs at 7 T with a factor of 10 higher spatial resolution. The TMBs depicted by 7 T high-resolution SWI were correlated with the duration of coma (Spearman's rho of 0.77). The corresponding association with TMBs in 3 T MRI SWI showed a Spearman's rho of 0.71. The initial GCS score and TMBs correlated with a Spearman's rho of -0.35 at 3 T SWI MRI and a rho of -0.33 at 7 T high-resolution SWI, respectively. The physical aspect of HRQOL correlated substantially with the count of TMBs (rho = 0.44 for 3 T SWI and rho = 0.35 for both 7 T SWI sequences, respectively).

Conclusions: The number of TMBs showed a substantial association with indicators of the acute clinical state and chronic neurobehavioral parameters after CHI, but there was no additional advantage of 7 T MRI. These preliminary findings warrant a larger prospective study for the future.

Keywords: 7 Tesla MRI; acute clinical state; clinical significance; diffuse axonal injury; health-related quality of life; susceptibility weighted imaging; traumatic brain inury; traumatic cerebral microbleeds.