The association between microhaemorrhages and post-traumatic functional outcome in the chronic phase after mild traumatic brain injury

S. de Haan, J. C. de Groot, B. Jacobs, J. van der Naalt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


In the chronic phase after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), microhaemorrhages are frequently detected on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). It is however unclear whether microhaemorrhages are associated with functional outcome and which MRI sequence is most appropriate to address this association. We aimed to determine the association between microhaemorrhages and functional outcome in the chronic posttraumatic phase after injury with the most suitable MRI sequence to address this association.

One hundred twenty-seven patients classified with mTBI admitted to the outpatient clinic from 2008 to 2015 for persisting posttraumatic complaints were stratified according to the presence of MRI abnormalities (n = 63 (MRI+ group) and n = 64 without abnormalities (MRI- group)). For the detection of microhaemorrhages, susceptibility-weighted imaging (SWI) and T2* gradient recalled echo (T2*GRE) were used. The relation between the functional outcome (dichotomized Glasgow Outcome Scale Extended scores) and the number and localization of microhaemorrhages was analysed using binary logistic regression.

SWI detected twice as many microhaemorrhages compared to T2*GRE: 341 vs. 179. Lesions were predominantly present in the frontal and temporal lobes. Unfavourable outcome was present in 67% of the MRI+ group with a significant association of total number of microhaemorrhages in the temporal cortical area on SWI (OR 0.43 (0.21-0.90) p = 0.02), with an explained variance of 44%. The number of microhaemorrhages was not correlated with the number of posttraumatic complaints.

An unfavourable outcome in the chronic posttraumatic phase is associated with the presence and number of microhaemorrhages in the temporal cortical area. SWI is preferably used to detect these microhaemorrhages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)963-969
Number of pages7
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2017


  • Mild traumatic brain injury
  • MRI
  • Microhaemorrhages
  • Functional outcome
  • SWI and T2*GRE

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