A study of concussion patients using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) found that gender may contribute to recovery time after a concussion. The results of the study reveal that males took longer to recover after a concussion than females did, and also showed that DTI can be utilized as a bias-free way to predict concussion outcome. DTI is an advanced form of MRI that allows researchers to assess microscopic changes in the brain’s white matter and produces a measurement called fractional anisotropy (FA) of the movement of water molecules along axons.

For the study, researchers examined the medical records and imaging results of 69 patients diagnosed with mTBI between 2006 and 2013, which included 47 males and 22 females, and 21 controls consisting of 10 males and 11 females. All of the patients underwent the same evaluation, including a computerized neurocognitive test and DTI of the brain. The DTI scans of the mTBI patients revealed abnormalities within the uncinate fasciculi (UF).

The DTI scans revealed that compared to the female mTBI patients, the male mTBI patients had significantly decreased UF FA values. A statistical analysis of the data revealed that UF VA value was a stronger predictor of  recovery time than initial symptom severity. In addition, the most substantial risk factor for a recovery time longer than 3 months was decreased UF FA. Also, male gender was directly correlated with increased recovery time.

Saeed Fakhran, MD, states, “The potential of DTI and UF FA to predict outcome after concussion has great clinical impact. Currently, we are heavily reliant on patient reporting, and patients may have ulterior motives, such as wanting to get back to play. But you can’t trick an MR scanner.” Fakhran adds, “We’re not at the point where DTI can provide individual prognoses yet, but that’s the hope and goal.”

Fakhran says, “Male gender and UF FA values are independent risk factors for persistent post-concussion symptoms after three months and stronger predictors of time to recovery than initial symptom severity or neurocognitive test results.”

Photo Appears Courtesy of Radiological Society of North America

Source: Radiological Society of North America