Computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and positron emission tomography in the study of brain trauma

Preliminary observations

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  • 1 Division of Neurosurgery, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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✓ Results of computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET), xenon-133 measurement of cerebral blood flow (CBF), and neuropsychological assessments are described in three head-injured patients. The patients were selected because they presented with intracranial hemorrhage diagnosed by CT. Two of the patients were studied acutely and again approximately 6 months later. In the acute stage, MRI was superior to CT in identifying the precise location and extent of intracranial hemorrhage and associated edema. Small subdural hematomas diagnosed on MRI were missed with CT scanning. The extent of apparent encephalomalacia in the chronic stages of injury was also better defined with MRI. Position emission tomography showed disturbances of glucose metabolism that extended beyond the structural abnormalities demonstrated by MRI and CT; anterior temporal lobe dysfunction was particularly evident in all three patients. Regional CBF studies failed to detect a number of the abnormalities seen on MRI and CT, and even ignored the metabolic dysfunction evident on PET that should have been accompanied by changes in regional CBF. The neuropsychological studies localized frontal lesions, but did not reveal abnormalities attributable to the structural lesions and the reduced metabolism in the anterior temporal lobes.

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