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Neurol Med Chir (Tokyo). 2012;52(1):31-40.

Utility of fractional anisotropy imaging analyzed by statistical parametric mapping for detecting minute brain lesions in chronic-stage patients who had mild or moderate traumatic brain injury.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Chubu Medical Center for Prolonged Traumatic Brain Dysfunction, Minokamo, Gifu, Japan.


Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) has recently evolved as valuable technique to investigate diffuse axonal injury (DAI). This study examined whether fractional anisotropy (FA) images analyzed by statistical parametric mapping (FA-SPM images) are superior to T(2)*-weighted gradient recalled echo (T2*GRE) images or fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) images for detecting minute lesions in traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. DTI was performed in 25 patients with cognitive impairments in the chronic stage after mild or moderate TBI. The FA maps obtained from the DTI were individually compared with those from age-matched healthy control subjects using voxel-based analysis and FA-SPM images (p < 0.001). Abnormal low-intensity areas on T2*GRE images (T2* lesions) were found in 10 patients (40.0%), abnormal high-intensity areas on FLAIR images in 4 patients (16.0%), and areas with significantly decreased FA on FA-SPM image in 16 patients (64.0%). Nine of 10 patients with T2* lesions had FA-SPM lesions. FA-SPM lesions topographically included most T2* lesions in the white matter and the deep brain structures, but did not include T2* lesions in the cortex/near-cortex or lesions containing substantial hemosiderin regardless of location. All 4 patients with abnormal areas on FLAIR images had FA-SPM lesions. FA-SPM imaging is useful for detecting minute lesions because of DAI in the white matter and the deep brain structures, which may not be visualized on T2*GRE or FLAIR images, and may allow the detection of minute brain lesions in patients with post-traumatic cognitive impairment.

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