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Doctor examining a brain CT scan

Diffusion Tensor Imaging Shows Tiny White Matter Tears in Brains of TBI Patients

DTI (diffusion tensor imaging) is a relatively new form of MRI that can be used to scan the white matter tracts of the brains of patients with TBI for hidden damage that does not show up on conventional MRI. DTI works by revealing the diffusion of water molecules across white matter with small tears not visible on MRI. Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Cambridge Hospital in England just published a paper in which they were able to correlate positive DTI findings with objective disability on the Glasgow Outcome Score.

The worse the small white matter tears the worse the disability for the TBI patient. The paper is titled Mapping Traumatic Axonal Injury Using Diffusion Tensor Imaging: Correlations with Functional Outcome. It appears in the online open-access journal PLoS One May 2011, Volume 6, Issue 5. The lead author is Virginia Newcombe.