Background: A subgroup of patients with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) experiences residual symptoms interfering with their return to work. The pathophysiological substrate of the suboptimal outcome in these patients is a source of debate.
Objective: To provide greater insight into the pathophysiological mechanisms of mild TBI. Methods: Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was performed during follow-up of 18 patients with mild TBI and compared with healthy control subjects. DTI data of the patient group were also compared with perfusion CT imaging in the acute phase of injury.
Results: In patients with mild TBI, a trend was observed for a decreased fractional anisotropy (FA) in widespread bilateral frontal white matter areas with increased mean diffusivity (MD) in the parieto-temporal regions, compared to healthy control subjects. Cerebral blood volume (CBV) correlated significantly with FA in several white matter tracts including the corpus callosum, the internal capsule, the inferior fronto-occipital fascicle, the corticospinal tract, the superior and the inferior longitudinal fascicle.
Conclusion: In mild TBI with normal conventional imaging significant associations between cerebral perfusion in the acute phase of injury and DTI analyses in the chronic phase of injury were discerned. The pathophysiological concept of these findings is being outlined.