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Matthew Tormenti, Donald Krieger, Ava M. Puccio, Malcolm R. McNeil, Walter Schneider and David O. Okonkwo

Object

Heightened recognition of the prevalence and significance of head injury in sports and in combat veterans has brought increased attention to the physiological and behavioral consequences of concussion. Current clinical practice is in part dependent on patient self-report as the basis for medical decisions and treatment. Magnetoencephalography (MEG) shows promise in the assessment of the pathophysiological derangements in concussion. The authors have developed a novel MEG-based neuroimaging strategy to provide objective, noninvasive, diagnostic information in neurological disorders. In the current study the authors demonstrate a novel task protocol and then assess MEG virtual recordings obtained during task performance as a diagnostic tool for concussion.

Methods

Ten individuals (5 control volunteers and 5 patients with a history of concussion) were enrolled in this pilot study. All participants underwent an MEG evaluation during performance of a language/spatial task. Each individual produced 960 responses to 320 sentence stimuli; 0.3 sec of MEG data from each word presentation and each response were analyzed: the data from each participant were classified using a rule constructed from the data obtained from the other 9 participants.

Results

Analysis of response times showed significant differences (p < 10−4) between concussed and normal groups, demonstrating the sensitivity of the task. The MEG measures enabled the correct classification of 8 of 10 individuals as concussed versus nonconcussed (p = 0.055). Analysis of single-trial data classified 70% of trials correctly (p < 10−10). Concussed patients showed increased activation in the occipitoparietal and temporal regions during evaluation.

Conclusions

These pilot findings are the first evidence of the utility of MEG virtual recording in diagnosing concussion. With further refinements, MEG virtual recordings may represent a noninvasive test to diagnose concussion and monitor its resolution.

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Amy K. Wagner, Dianxu Ren, Yvette P. Conley, Xiecheng Ma, Mary E. Kerr, Ross D. Zafonte, Ava M. Puccio, Donald W. Marion and C. Edward Dixon

Object

Dopamine (DA) pathways have been implicated in cognitive deficits after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Both sex and the dopamine transporter (DAT) 3′ variable number of tandem repeat polymorphism have been associated with differences in DAT protein density, and DAT protein affects both presynaptic DA release, through reverse transport, and DA reuptake. Catecholamines and associated metabolites are subject to autooxidation, resulting in the formation of reactive oxygen species that may contribute to subsequent oxidative injury. The purpose of this study was to determine associations between factors that affect DAT expression and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) DA and metabolite levels after severe TBI.

Methods

Sixty-three patients with severe TBI (Glasgow Coma Scale score ≤ 8) were evaluated. The patients' genotypes were obtained using previously banked samples of CSF, and serial CSF samples (416 samples) were used to evaluate DA and metabolite levels. High-performance liquid chromatography was used to determine CSF levels of DA, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), and homovanillic acid (HVA) during the first 5 days after injury.

Mixed-effects multivariate regression modeling revealed that patients with the DAT 10/10 genotype had higher CSF DA levels than patients with either the DAT 9/9 or DAT 9/10 genotypes (p = 0.009). Females with the DAT 10/10 genotype had higher CSF DA levels than females with the DAT 9/9 or DAT 9/10 genotypes, and sex was associated with higher DOPAC levels (p = 0.004). Inotrope administration also contributed to higher DA levels (p = 0.002).

Conclusions

In addition to systemic administration of DA, inherent factors such as sex and DAT genotype affect post-TBI CSF DA and DA metabolite levels, a phenomenon that may modulate susceptibility to DA-mediated oxidative injury.

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Samuel S. Shin, Timothy Verstynen, Sudhir Pathak, Kevin Jarbo, Allison J. Hricik, Megan Maserati, Sue R. Beers, Ava M. Puccio, Fernando E. Boada, David O. Okonkwo and Walter Schneider

For patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI), current clinical imaging methods generally do not provide highly detailed information about the location of axonal injury, severity of injury, or expected recovery. In a case of severe TBI, the authors applied a novel high-definition fiber tracking (HDFT) to directly visualize and quantify the degree of axonal fiber damage and predict functional deficits due to traumatic axonal injury and loss of cortical projections.

This 32-year-old man sustained a severe TBI. Computed tomography and MRI revealed an area of hemorrhage in the basal ganglia with mass effect, but no specific information on the location of axonal injury could be obtained from these studies. Examinations of the patient at Week 3 and Week 8 after TBI revealed motor weaknesses of the left extremities. Four months postinjury, 257-direction diffusion spectrum imaging and HDFT analysis was performed to evaluate the degree of axonal damage in the motor pathway and quantify asymmetries in the left and right axonal pathways. High-definition fiber tracking was used to follow corticospinal and corona radiata pathways from the cortical surface to the midbrain and quantify projections from motor areas. Axonal damage was then localized by assessing the number of descending fibers at the level of the cortex, internal capsule, and midbrain. The motor deficit apparent in the clinical examinations correlated with the axonal losses visualized using HDFT. Fiber loss estimates at 4 months postinjury accurately predicted the nature of the motor deficits (severe, focal left-hand weakness) when other standard clinical imaging modalities did not. A repeat scan at 10 months postinjury, when edema and hemorrhage had receded, replicated the fiber loss.

Using HDFT, the authors accurately identified the presence and location of damage to the underlying white matter in this patient with TBI. Detailed information of injury provided by this novel technique holds future potential for precise neuroimaging assessment of TBI.

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Ross C. Puffer, John K. Yue, Matthew Mesley, Julia B. Billigen, Jane Sharpless, Anita L. Fetzick, Ava Puccio, Ramon Diaz-Arrastia and David O. Okonkwo

OBJECTIVE

Following traumatic brain injury (TBI), midline shift of the brain at the level of the septum pellucidum is often caused by unilateral space-occupying lesions and is associated with increased intracranial pressure and worsened morbidity and mortality. While outcome has been studied in this population, the recovery trajectory has not been reported in a large cohort of patients with TBI. The authors sought to utilize the Citicoline Brain Injury Treatment (COBRIT) trial to analyze patient recovery over time depending on degree of midline shift at presentation.

METHODS

Patient data from the COBRIT trial were stratified into 4 groups of midline shift, and outcome measures were analyzed at 30, 90, and 180 days postinjury. A recovery trajectory analysis was performed identifying patients with outcome measures at all 3 time points to analyze the degree of recovery based on midline shift at presentation.

RESULTS

There were 892, 1169, and 895 patients with adequate outcome data at 30, 90, and 180 days, respectively. Rates of favorable outcome (Glasgow Outcome Scale–Extended [GOS-E] scores 4–8) at 6 months postinjury were 87% for patients with no midline shift, 79% for patients with 1–5 mm of shift, 64% for patients with 6–10 mm of shift, and 47% for patients with > 10 mm of shift. The mean improvement from unfavorable outcome (GOS-E scores 2 and 3) to favorable outcome (GOS-E scores 4–8) from 1 month to 6 months in all groups was 20% (range 4%–29%). The mean GOS-E score for patients in the 6- to 10-mm group crossed from unfavorable outcome (GOS-E scores 2 and 3) into favorable outcome (GOS-E scores 4–8) at 90 days, and the mean GOS-E of patients in the > 10-mm group nearly reached the threshold of favorable outcome by 180 days postinjury.

CONCLUSIONS

In this secondary analysis of the Phase 3 COBRIT trial, TBI patients with less than 10 mm of midline shift on admission head CT had significantly improved functional outcomes through 180 days after injury compared with those with greater than 10 mm of midline shift. Of note, nearly 50% of patients with > 10 mm of midline shift achieved a favorable outcome (GOS-E score 4–8) by 6 months postinjury.

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Kristen E. Jones, Ava M. Puccio, Kathy J. Harshman, Bonnie Falcione, Neal Benedict, Brian T. Jankowitz, Martina Stippler, Michael Fischer, Erin K. Sauber-Schatz, Anthony Fabio, Joseph M. Darby and David O. Okonkwo

Object

Current standard of care for patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) is prophylactic treatment with phenytoin for 7 days to decrease the risk of early posttraumatic seizures. Phenytoin alters drug metabolism, induces fever, and requires therapeutic-level monitoring. Alternatively, levetiracetam (Keppra) does not require serum monitoring or have significant pharmacokinetic interactions. In the current study, the authors compare the EEG findings in patients receiving phenytoin with those receiving levetiracetam monotherapy for seizure prophylaxis following severe TBI.

Methods

Data were prospectively collected in 32 cases in which patients received levetiracetam for the first 7 days after severe TBI and compared with data from a historical cohort of 41 cases in which patients received phenytoin monotherapy. Patients underwent 1-hour electroencephalographic (EEG) monitoring if they displayed persistent coma, decreased mental status, or clinical signs of seizures. The EEG results were grouped into normal and abnormal findings, with abnormal EEG findings further categorized as seizure activity or seizure tendency.

Results

Fifteen of 32 patients in the levetiracetam group warranted EEG monitoring. In 7 of these 15 cases the results were normal and in 8 abnormal; 1 patient had seizure activity, whereas 7 had seizure tendency. Twelve of 41 patients in the phenytoin group received EEG monitoring, with all results being normal. Patients treated with levetiracetam and phenytoin had equivalent incidence of seizure activity (p = 0.556). Patients receiving levetiracetam had a higher incidence of abnormal EEG findings (p = 0.003).

Conclusions

Levetiracetam is as effective as phenytoin in preventing early posttraumatic seizures but is associated with an increased seizure tendency on EEG analysis.