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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57255. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057255. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

Leukoaraiosis, a common brain magnetic resonance imaging finding, as a predictor of traffic crashes.

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  • 1Traffic Medicine Laboratory, Research Organization for Regional Alliance, Kochi University of Technology, Kami-shi, Kochi, Japan. park.kaechang@kochi-tech.ac.jp



There are no reported studies on the relationship between traffic crashes and brain tissue changes in healthy drivers. The relationship between traffic crashes and leukoaraiosis, a common magnetic resonance imaging finding, was investigated in this study.


A total of 3,930 automobile drivers (2,037 men and 1,893 women; age, 21-87 years) who underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging as part of total health check-ups and answered a road traffic questionnaire were examined to determine whether asymptomatic leukoaraiosis was associated with various types of traffic crashes. Multiple logistic regression analysis was performed to elucidate the relationship between leukoaraiosis and various types of traffic crashes.


Subcortical leukoaraiosis was diagnosed in 28.52% of all subjects, whereas periventricular leukoaraiosis was diagnosed in 9.57% of all subjects. Adjusted odds ratios for involvement in all types of traffic crashes were not significant for subjects with periventricular leukoaraiosis; however, they were significant for subjects with multiple and large multiple subcortical leukoaraiosis. Adjusted odds ratios for involvement in crashes at crossroads were 1.09 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.60-2.00) for subjects with single subcortical leukoaraiosis, 3.35 (95% CI, 2.36-4.77) for subjects with multiple subcortical leukoaraiosis, and 2.45 (95% CI, 2.36-4.98) for subjects with large multiple subcortical leukoaraiosis. Periventricular leukoaraiosis was not significantly associated with crossroad crashes. Involvement in crashes of any type, parking lot crashes, and rear-end collisions showed no significant association with either subcortical or periventricular leukoaraiosis.


Multiple subcortical leukoaraiosis, but not periventricular leukoaraiosis, is significantly associated with traffic crashes, in particular, crossroad crashes. This association is independent of sex, age, and driving exposure. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence describing the relationship between brain tissue changes and traffic crashes.

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