Myth 4: Negative MRIs, CT scans and EEGs rule out brain injury.

Another misconception is that if a person has sustained or suffered a traumatic brain injury, today’s sophisticated diagnostic tests will detect it. There is a belief that if those tests are negative or normal, no brain injury has been sustained. Unfortunately, this is another myth.

In a seminal piece titled “Mild Traumatic Brain Injury” in the journal Neurology, Dr. Alexander states: “By common clinical agreement, neuroimaging studies are negative.” Other leading professionals in the field of caring for persons with traumatic brain injury are agreement.

In the text Neuropsychiatry of Traumatic Brain Injury, the authors write: “In addition, many patients with a history of minor brain injury will not have abnormalities on even MRI yet can manifest clear evidence of functional impairment on neuropsychological measures.”

Dr. Zasler, in discussing MRIs, CT scans and the like, writes, “Many practicing physicians believe that a patient with a normal CT and normal electroencephalogram is in fact normal.” They should keep in mind, however, the old adage: Absence of proof is not proof of absence. Historically, the lack of positive neurodiagnostic tests in patients with mild TBI may have reflected a simple lack of sensitivity and/or specificity.

You can read my other posts on the 10 myths of traumatic brain injuries here.