Most patients with mild to moderate traumatic brain injury have normal CT scans and MRI scans. Advances in structural brain imaging promise to provide objective proof of brain damage in cases where such proof was formerly unavailable.
Diffuse Tensor Imaging (DTI) is a method of displaying water in brain tissue that indicates the direction of water flow. Colored images are produced that contrast the direction of water flow, allowing scientists to pinpoint areas of acitivity and non-activity in the brain. Another diagnostic tool is measurement of the volume of the brain matter over time. More powerful 3-Tesla MRIs produce more detailed images of the brain. Serial 3T MRIs allow scientists to measure changes in the brain over time. Sophisticated software programs like NeuroQuant® automatically identify several MRI brain regions and measures the volume of each. NeuroQuant® has been approved by the FDA for measuring brain volume.
A Virgnia brain injury expert, David Ross, M.D., has extended the use of NeuroQuant® to provide comparison to normal controls for 11 brain regions. Being able to show that the brain has shrunk post-trauma and/or that the patient has abnormal diffusion tensor imaging, provides objective proof of damage.