Head & Brain Injury Advice and Resources


Doctor examining a brain CT scan

MRI is better at detecting lesions from Mild TBI than CT Scans

A clinical trial at 3 large, urban hospitals with Level I trauma services showed that MRIs are better at predicting long-term outcomes for people with mild traumatic brain injuries than CT scans. The hospitals which participated in this study were the University of Pittsburg Medical Center, UCSF and the San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center. The lead author of the study was UCSF neuroradiologist Esther Yuh, MD, PhD .

The study was published in the December 2012 issue of the Annals of Neurology. The central finding on 135 patients followed for mild TBI was that 99 of the patients showed no brain abnormality on the CT scan adminsitered in the Emergency Department but just one week later 27 of these 99 patients showed focal lesions on MRI demonstrating pockets of microscopic bleeding in the brain. About 15 percent of people who have mild traumatic brain injuries do suffer persistent, long-term neurological consequences. MRI done one week post-trauma should help doctors better predict which patients will fall into the 15% group.