Cerebral Hemodynamic Changes of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury at the Acute Stage
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Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a significant public health care burden in the United States. However, we lack a detailed understanding of the pathophysiology following mTBI and its relation to symptoms and recovery. With advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we can investigate brain perfusion and oxygenation in regions known to be implicated in symptoms, including cortical gray matter and subcortical structures. In this study, we assessed 14 mTBI patients and 18 controls with susceptibility weighted imaging and mapping (SWIM) for blood oxygenation quantification. In addition to SWIM, 7 patients and 12 controls had cerebral perfusion measured with arterial spin labeling (ASL). We found increases in regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the left striatum, and in frontal and occipital lobes in patients as compared to controls (p = 0.01, 0.03, 0.03 respectively). We also found decreases in venous susceptibility, indicating increases in venous oxygenation, in the left thalamostriate vein and right basal vein of Rosenthal (p = 0.04 in both). mTBI patients had significantly lower delayed recall scores on the standardized assessment of concussion, but neither susceptibility nor CBF measures were found to correlate with symptoms as assessed by neuropsychological testing. The increased CBF combined with increased venous oxygenation suggests an increase in cerebral blood flow that exceeds the oxygen demand of the tissue, in contrast to the regional hypoxia seen in more severe TBI. This may represent a neuroprotective response following mTBI, which warrants further investigation.
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