Changes in white matter in long-term survivors of severe non-missile traumatic brain injury: a computational analysis of magnetic resonance images.
Tomaiuolo F., Worsley KJ., Lerch J., Di Paola M., Carlesimo GA., Bonanni R., Caltagirone C., Paus T.
The aim of this study was to investigate long-term consequences of severe non-missile traumatic brain injury (nmTBI) in patients without macroscopic focal brain lesions (>1.6 cm(3)) on regional white-matter density (WMd), and possible correlations with days of coma and memory performances. T1-weighted magnetic-resonance images (MRI) were acquired in 19 nmTBI patients, 3-113 months following the injury, and in 19 control subjects matched for age and gender. In addition, nmTBI patients underwent a battery of standardised memory tests. The MRIs were processed in a fully automatic system using voxel-by-voxel methods. Corpus callosum, fornix, anterior limb of the internal capsule, superior frontal gyrus, para-hippocampal gyrus, optic radiation and chiasma showed significant WMd reduction in nmTBI when compared to control subjects. None of the correlations between days of coma and memory performance scores with nmTBI voxels value that showed WMd reduction reached significance, with the exception of a significant negative correlation between WMd in the mid body of corpus callosum and short-story delayed recall. We detected reductions in WM density in several brain locations similar to those described in previous post mortem investigations. In addition, we observed WMd reduction in the optic chiasma and in the optic radiations; this finding may reflect transneural degeneration along the visual pathway. The weak correlations between specific anatomical sites of the reduced WMd and behavior may reflect the diffuse nature of the brain damage and/or the different time of onset between behavioral manifestations and neuropathological modifications occurring in nmTBI.