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Researchers Use DTI to Investigate White Matter Abnormalities in Veterans with Mild TBI

his month’s issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry contains an important new research study by Ricardo E. Jorge, M.D. entitled “White Matter Abnormalities in Veterans with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.”  AM J Psychiatry 2012; 169:1284-1291.  
 
In the study, the researchers utilized diffusion tensor imaging to examine white matter integrity in a relatively large group of veterans with a history of mild traumatic brain injury.  The researchers obtained DTI images from 72 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who had mild TBI which were then compared with DTI images from 21 veterans with no exposure to TBI during deployment.  Using conventional voxel-based analysis as well as a method of identifying spatially heterogeneous areas of decreased fractional anisotropy (“potholes”) were used.  The veterans also underwent psychiatric and neuropsychological assessments.  
 
The researchers found that veterans who had blast-related mild TBI showed evidence of multi-focal white matter abnormalities that were associated with severity of the injury and with relevant functional measures.  The researchers found that “white matter potholes may constitute a sensitive bio marker of axonal injury that can be identified in mild TBI at acute and chronic stages of its clinical course.”  
 
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