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Dev Neurosci. 2006;28(4-5):309-26.

Use of advanced neuroimaging techniques in the evaluation of pediatric traumatic brain injury.

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Department of Pediatrics, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA 92350, USA.


Advanced neuroimaging techniques are now used to expand our knowledge of traumatic brain injury, and increasingly, they are being applied to children. This review will examine four of these methods as they apply to children who present acutely after injury. (1) Susceptibility weighted imaging is a 3-dimensional high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging technique that is more sensitive than conventional imaging in detecting hemorrhagic lesions that are often associated with diffuse axonal injury. (2) Magnetic resonance spectroscopy acquires metabolite information reflecting neuronal integrity and function from multiple brain regions and provides sensitive, noninvasive assessment of neurochemical alterations that offers early prognostic information regarding the outcome. (3) Diffusion weighted imaging is based on differences in diffusion of water molecules within the brain and has been shown to be very sensitive in the early detection of ischemic injury. It is now being used to study the direct effects of traumatic injury as well as those due to secondary ischemia. (4) Diffusion tensor imaging is a form of diffusion weighted imaging and allows better evaluation of white matter fiber tracts by taking advantage of the intrinsic directionality (anisotropy) of water diffusion in human brain. It has been shown to be useful in identifying white matter abnormalities after diffuse axonal injury when conventional imaging appears normal. An important aspect of these advanced methods is that they demonstrate that 'normal-appearing' brain in many instances is not normal, i.e. there is evidence of significant undetected injury that may underlie a child's clinical status. Availability and integration of these advanced imaging methods will lead to better treatment and change the standard of care for use of neuroimaging to evaluate children with traumatic brain injury.

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