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J Am Coll Radiol. 2015 Feb;12(2):e1-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2014.10.014. Epub 2014 Nov 25.

Imaging evidence and recommendations for traumatic brain injury: conventional neuroimaging techniques.

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Division of Neuroradiology, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California. Electronic address:
Department of Radiology, North Shore - LIJ Health System, Manhasset, New York.
Department of Radiology, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Department of Radiology, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York; Department of Radiology, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, New York.
Department of Radiology and Translational Science Institute, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina.


Imaging plays an essential role in identifying intracranial injury in patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). The goals of imaging include (1) detecting injuries that may require immediate surgical or procedural intervention, (2) detecting injuries that may benefit from early medical therapy or vigilant neurologic supervision, and (3) determining the prognosis of patients to tailor rehabilitative therapy or help with family counseling and discharge planning. In this article, the authors perform a review of the evidence on the utility of various imaging techniques in patients presenting with TBI to provide guidance for evidence-based, clinical imaging protocols. The intent of this article is to suggest practical imaging recommendations for patients presenting with TBI across different practice settings and to simultaneously provide the rationale and background evidence supporting their use. These recommendations should ultimately assist referring physicians faced with the task of ordering appropriate imaging tests in particular patients with TBI for whom they are providing care. These recommendations should also help radiologists advise their clinical colleagues on appropriate imaging utilization for patients with TBI.


CT; MRI; Traumatic brain injury; brain imaging

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