A Hillsborough County, Florida, trial court has denied a defendant’s Frye challenge regarding the admissibility of MRI with DTI and the admissibility of SPECT scan. Hammer v. Sentinel Insurance Company, Case No. 08-019984 (13th Judicial Circuit, Hillsborough County, Florida, September 27, 2010).

There, defendants moved to bar the admissibility of MRI with Diffusion Tensor Imaging and testimony pertaining to it, as well as to bar the admissibility of an abnormal SPECT scan which objectively corroborated plaintiff’s physician’s diagnosis of traumatic brain injury.

The parties submitted extensive filings including scientific and legal publications, peer reviewed journals, judicial opinions from throughout the country, as well as expert testimony. With regard to Diffusion Tensor Imaging, the court found that it was neither new nor novel science and that plaintiff had demonstrated that the basis underlying principles of DTI had been sufficiently tested and accepted by the relevant scientific and medical communities. Plaintiff presented the expert testimony of Dr. David Herbst, a board certified radiologist who testified that DTI studies are definitely accepted by practicing radiologists and are depended upon by physicians who order them to assist in diagnosing and treating brain injuries. The court also buttressed its findings with the position of the American College of Radiology who defines practice guidelines in technical standards for radiologic practice on the Performance and Interpretation of Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the brain, which clearly provides that indications for MRI of the brain with Diffusion Imaging if available, is helpful in many indications, including but not limited to, acute and chronic neurologic deficits, headache, mental status change, suspicious of non-accident trauma and post-traumatic conditions among others.

Similarly, the court entered similar findings with regard to the admissibility of Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) imaging. Again, the court relied upon the position of the American College of Radiology practice guidelines for the proformance of SPECT brain profusion studies which defines practice guidelines in technical standards for radiologic practice, clinical indications for SPECT brain profusion studies including the evaluation of symptomatic traumatic brain injury, especially in the absence of Computed Tomography (CT) and/or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) findings. The court found that SPECT imaging has been used clinically for these purposes for years.

Thus, the court denied defendants Frye challenge to the admissibility of SPECT and DTI.