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Research Suggests MRI Can Help Predict Long-Term Outcomes after Brain Injury

Posted in Blog on May 25, 2013

Approximately 1.7 million Americans suffer brain injuries every year, most of them in road accidents, or bicycle accidents.  Approximately 3/4th of these injuries are reported to be mild traumatic brain injuries that are not serious enough to lead to long-term disability, but can have long-term outcomes.  However, doctors find it a challenge to determine if a patient’s brain injury will have any long-term outcome.  New research seems to suggest that MRIs can help a doctor in this area.

The doctors compared patients who were given only CT scans after a brain injury, with the results after they were given an MRI scan as well.  The researchers analyzed 135 patients who had suffered traumatic brain injuries, and had been administered a CT scan in the hospital.  All of these patients were also admitted an MRI about a week later.

A majority of the patients in the study had a clear CT scan, but when they were administered an MRI, approximately a quarter of those patients with clear CT scans were found to have microscopic bleeding in the brain.

This provided doctors vital clues about the long-term outlook for these patients, something which would not have been possible if they had relied on the CT scans alone.

A mild traumatic brain injury, like a concussion, is nothing to sneer at.  These injuries may not lead to lo severe disability, but in 15% of cases, these injuries have been found to lead to long-term neurological complications.  If a doctor is able to identify which patient is likely to have long-term complications, these patients can be monitored more closely, and can be given more clear instructions about what kind of activities to avoid.

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