Objective: To investigate early brain volumetric changes from acute to 6 months following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) in deep gray matter regions and their association with patient 6-month outcome.Methods: Fifty-six patients with mTBI underwent MRI and behavioral evaluation at acute (<10 days) and approximately 1 and 6 months post injury. Regional volume changes were investigated in key gray matter regions: thalamus, hippocampus, putamen, caudate, pallidum, and amygdala, and compared with volumes from 34 healthy control subjects. In patients with mTBI, we further assessed associations between longitudinal regional volume changes with patient outcome measures at 6 months including post-concussive symptoms, cognitive performance, and overall satisfaction with life.Results: Reduction in thalamic and hippocampal volumes was observed at 1 month among patients with mTBI. Such volume reduction persisted in the thalamus until 6 months. Changes in thalamic volumes also correlated with multiple symptom and functional outcome measures in patients at 6 months.Conclusion: Our results indicate that the thalamus may be differentially affected among patients with mTBI, resulting in both structural and functional deficits with subsequent post-concussive sequelae and may serve as a biomarker for the assessment of efficacy of novel therapeutic interventions.
Keywords: Mild traumatic brain injury; magnetic resonance imaging; post concussive symptoms; volumetric analysis.