New Imaging Technique Offers Hope for Patients with Traumatic Brain Injury

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Brain injuries are exceedingly complex, which makes treatment and rehabilitation difficult in many cases. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have reported using a new imaging technique called High-Definition Fiber Tracking (HDFT) to identify the disrupted neural pathways (paths made up of brain cells that communicate with one another) in patients with traumatic brain injury.

Visualization of TBI using HDFT


Images come from computer processing of MRI data; the processing reveals breaks in fiber tracts, or neuronal pathways.

Dr. Walter Schneider, who led the research team that developed HDFT, says of the technique:

In our experiments, HDFT has been able to identify disruptions in neural pathways with a clarity that no other method can see. With it, we can virtually dissect 40 major fiber tracts in the brain to find damaged areas and quantify the proportion of fibers lost relative to the uninjured side of the brain or to the brains of healthy individuals. Now, we can clearly see breaks and identify which parts of the brain have lost connections.

Schneider’s team reports using the HDFT technique in the case of a patient with traumatic brain injury in the Journal of Neurosurgery [1]. The team hopes that HDFT will improve patient outcomes and increase the potential for rehabilitation in cases of traumatic brain injury.

Source: University of Pittsburgh

References

  1. Shin et al. High-definition fiber tracking for assessment of neurological deficit in a case of traumatic brain injury: finding, visualizing, and interpreting small sites of damage. J Neurosurg. 2012 Mar 2. [Epub ahead of print]
    View abstract
About the Author

Kirstin Hendrickson is a science journalist and faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State University. She has a Ph.D. in Chemistry.