BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Neurodegeneration after mild traumatic brain injury may manifest as decreasing regional brain volume that evolves from months to years following mild traumatic brain injury and is associated with worse clinical outcomes. We hypothesized that quantitative brain volume derived from CT of the head, performed for clinical indications during routine care, would change with time and provide insights into the putative neuroinflammatory response to mild traumatic brain injury. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We searched the electronic medical record of our institution for NCCTs of the head performed in patients with mild traumatic brain injury and included those who also underwent NCCTs of the head 1 month to 1 year before and after mild traumatic brain injury for an indication unrelated to trauma. Controls underwent 3 sequential NCCTs of the head with indications unrelated to trauma. The whole-brain and intracranial volume groups were computed using ITK-SNAP. Brain volumes normalized to intracranial volumes were compared across time points using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. RESULTS: We identified 48 patients from 2005 to 2015 who underwent NCCTs of the head in the emergency department for mild traumatic brain injury and had NCCTs of the head performed both before and after mild traumatic brain injury. Median normalized brain volumes significantly decreased on the follow-up study post-mild traumatic brain injury (0.86 versus 0.84, P <.001) and were similar compared with pre-mild traumatic brain injury studies (0.87 versus 0.86, P=.927). There was no significant difference between normalized brain volumes in the 48 controls. CONCLUSIONS: A decrease in brain volume following mild traumatic brain injury is detectable on CT and is not seen in similar patients with non-mild traumatic brain injury during a similar timeframe. Given the stability of brain volume before mild traumatic brain injury, CT volume loss may represent the subtle effects of neurodegeneration.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology