Invisible Brain Injuries that Can Cause Lasting Cognitive and Psychological Impairments
Some head trauma is so obvious that even a lay person can tell there is a problem. However, many people suffer significant brain injuries that only show up in detailed brain imaging scans such as MRI, PET, SPECT or CT scan.
HematomasBlood is supposed to move freely through the brain's vascular system, however, there are few areas for it to collect in case of an injury. A hematoma is an abnormal collection of blood outside of a blood vessel which occurs when the brain is subjected to trauma. Hematomas impact the ability of the brain to function correctly. Hematomas and acute bleeding in the brain can be imaged using CT. Evidence of old hematomas and bleeding can be imaged with an MRI sequence know as Susceptibility Weighted Imaging.
Diffuse Axonal InjuryThis is a medical term for the twisting, tearing, and shearing of the axons in the brain as a result of trauma. Axons are the cells in the brain that carry information to and from the thinking parts of the brain. As a result of trauma, the connections in the brain are disrupted and potentially disconnected resulting in a disruption of the brains ability to function. Significant Injury to axons can be seen as bright spots on MRI. More diffuse axonal injury can be imaged using an MRI technique known as DTI or Diffusion Tensor Imaging.
ContusionA brain contusion is an intracerebral hematoma or a bruise to the brain itself. Often when the brain itself is contused, there is a significant loss of brain tissue as a result of the damage to the tissue resulting in a corresponding loss of function in that geographical area of the brain. Contusions can be imaged using CT and MRI.
Cerebral EdemaCerebral Edema is swelling of the brain which can result from significant trauma. If left undiagnosed and untreated, Cerebral Edema can result in herniation of the brain and death. Conventional CT is used to image Cerebral Edema.