Researchers using information provided by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique have identified regional white matter damage in the brains of people who experience chronic dizziness and other symptoms after concussion.
The findings suggest that information provided by MRI can speed the onset of effective treatments for concussion patients. The results of this research are published online in the journal Radiology.
Concussions, also known as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), affect between 1.8 and 3.8 million individuals in the United States annually.
One of the most common and debilitating effects of concussion is vestibulopathy, a condition characterized by dizziness, imbalance and visual problems. Vestibulopathy impairs activities of daily living and puts patients at increased risk for a second injury. Up until now, no specific brain regions have been linked to the prognosis of patients with vestibulopathy.
For the study, the researchers retrospectively reviewed imaging data from 30 mTBI patients with vestibular symptoms and 25 with ocular convergence insufficiency, a condition that occurs when the eyes don't turn inward properly when focusing on a nearby object. Controls consisted of 39 mTBI patients without vestibular abnormalities and 17 with normal ocular convergence. The imaging data was acquired using an MRI technique called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which produces a fractional anisotropy (FA) value that can be used to determine damage to the brain's signal-transmitting white matter.
"FA provides a measure of how intact the white matter is," said Lea Alhilali, M.D., from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "The lower the FA value, the more injured the white matter is."
When Dr. Alhilali and colleagues compared the DTI results, they found that the concussion patients with vestibular symptoms had decreased FA values in brain regions not previously suspected to be involved in post-traumatic vestibulopathy.
"Patients with vestibular symptoms had white matter injury in the cerebellar area, which is known to control balance and movement, and also in the fusiform gyri, a brain area that integrates the visual fields of the left and right eye and is important to spatial orientation," she said.
The findings appear to show a connection between vestibulopathy and regional brain damage, Dr. Alhilali added.
"Vestibulopathy was previously thought to be related to the inner ear structure," she said. "What's unique about our study is that it shows that, in these patients, there is also injury to the brain itself."
The researchers also found that injury to the cerebellar area was associated with a lengthier recovery time.
The findings have the potential to change the clinical management of vestibulopathy in concussion patients, Dr. Alhilali said. For example, DTI results could be used alongside neurocognitive testing to help determine a patient's prognosis and begin appropriate treatments.
"Vestibular therapy is often very effective," Dr. Alhilali said. "Using DTI findings, we can treat patients earlier and get them back to a baseline state much sooner."
The researchers have two goals in the near term, Dr. Alhilali said. First they want to identify brain injuries associated with other post-concussion symptoms, and then they hope to conduct prospective studies to track patients from shortly after their concussions through recovery.
"Concussion is not just one pathology, but many different injuries with different symptoms," Dr. Alhilali said. "Not every case is the same, and we need to treat each patient individually."
"Detection of Central White Matter Injury Underlying Vestibulopathy after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury." Collaborating with Dr. Alhilali were Karl Yaeger, M.D., Michael Collins, Ph.D., and Saeed Fakhran, M.D.
Radiology is edited by Herbert Y. Kressel, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., and owned and published by the Radiological Society of North America, Inc.
RSNA is an association of more than 53,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists promoting excellence in patient care and health care delivery through education, research and technologic innovation. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (RSNA.org)
For patient-friendly information on MRI, visit RadiologyInfo.org.
Linda Brooks | Eurek Alert!
A laser for your eyes
18.04.2016 | Lomonosov Moscow State University
New technology for examining cardiovascular blood vessels
14.04.2016 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.
Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...
Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...
Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid
Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). This work is about avoiding costly and unstable fullerenes.
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences...
As one of the leading R&D partners in the development of surface technologies and organic electronics, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP will be exhibiting its recent achievements in vacuum coating of ultra-thin glass at SVC TechCon 2016 (Booth 846), taking place in Indianapolis / USA from May 9 – 13.
Fraunhofer FEP is an experienced partner for technological developments, known for testing the limits of new materials and for optimization of those materials...
27.04.2016 | Event News
15.04.2016 | Event News
12.04.2016 | Event News
29.04.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
29.04.2016 | Health and Medicine
29.04.2016 | Life Sciences