When people in New Haven suffer a possible brain injury and go to the hospital, doctors will often order a CT scan to look for brain trauma. But a new study suggests that a CT may not be sufficient to diagnose some brain injuries. Instead, an MRI scan may be more effective in predicting long-term effects on patients.

The new study, which was published in the December issue of the medical journal Annals of Neurology, followed the medical history of 135 people who went to the hospital for treatment of a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) at three different hospitals over a two-year period. Each of the patients received CT scans at admission to the hospital. Of the 135 TBI patients, 99 had CT scans that indicated they had no detectable brain injury.

A week later, the patients underwent an MRI scan. Interestingly, the MRIs turned out to uncover a great deal of injuries the CTs had missed. Twenty-seven of the 99 patients who were not diagnosed with a TBI by the CT had focal lesions, which indicate microscopic bleeding in the brain. That bleeding could indicate a TBI that may lead to neurological problems later in life.

More accurate diagnoses could help doctors choose which patients to monitor more closely and better tailor their treatment. It will be interesting to see whether hospitals will use MRIs in more cases of mild TBI in the future.

A brain injury can be very debilitating. When someone suffers a brain injury due to another's negligence, that negligent person may be ordered to compensate the injured person for their medical bills, lost wages and other costs.

Source: R&D Magazine, "MRIs reveal signs of brain injuries not seen in CT scans," Jason Bardi, Dec. 19, 2012

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