Head & Brain Injury Advice and Resources


DTI Scans Show Holes in Brain White Matter Years After Mild TBI

Mild TBI can occur to civilians from falls or car crashes and to military personnel from explosions which send shock waves through the brain. The microscopic damage to the brain that accompanies mild TBI is not visible on CT scans and standard MRIs. Because of this people with mild TBI are often dismissed as fakers, exaggerators or people with psychological problems rather than accepted as people with organic brain injury.

However, a special variety of MRI called DTI (water diffusion tensor imaging) can show microscopic brain damage by tracking leaks of water in the white matter tracts of the brain. Recently neurosurgeon Richard Bucholz, M.D. at St. Louis University Medical School became interested in what DTI would show in the brains of U.S. soldiers subjected to blast injuries years ago. On December 10, 2013 he reported to colleagues at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America that DTI shows holes are still present in their brains from blast injuries. These soldier were still reporting problems with attention, memory, and mood. If you are still suffering from cognitive and/or mood problems years after a mild TBI and you have access to MRI using diffusion tensor imaging, you and your doctor may wish to consider using that type of scan, especially if you are being denied benefits for your injury.