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Brain Imaging Behav. 2012 Jun;6(2):208-23. doi: 10.1007/s11682-012-9181-4.

Metabolic imaging of mild traumatic brain injury.

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Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Traumatic brain injury results in a metabolic cascade of changes that occur at the molecular level, invisible to conventional imaging methods such as computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. Non-invasive metabolic imaging tools such as single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), positron emission tomography (PET), and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) are the ideal methods for providing insight to these changes by measuring regional cerebral blood flow, glucose metabolism, and brain metabolite concentrations, respectively, after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). The purpose of this review is to provide an overview of the different methodologies and provide an up-to-date summary of recent findings with SPECT, PET, and MRS technologies, specifically after mTBI, as defined by standardized criteria. Given that the different physiological and pathological responses are heterogeneous, efforts will be made to separate studies at different time points after injury (acute, subacute, and chronic stages) as well as to the different types of mTBI such sports-related head injury where repetitive head injuries are much more common and may present a unique signature.

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