Imaging in the diagnosis and prognosis of traumatic brain injury.

18 Jun 2018

INTRODUCTION: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a major cause of death and disability worldwide. Improved understanding of the impact of head injury and the extent and development of neuronal loss and cognitive dysfunction could lead to improved therapy and outcome for patients. AREAS COVERED: This paper reviews the currently available imaging techniques and defines their role in the diagnosis, management and prediction of outcome following traumatic brain injury. These imaging techniques provide delineation of the structural, physiological and functional derangements that result following acute injury, and map their development and association with late functional deficits. Imaging tools also have a role in defining the pathophysiological mechanisms responsible for further neuronal loss following the primary injury. Finally, this paper provides an overview of the role of functional imaging in classifying unresponsive coma and defining functional reorganisation of the brain following injury. EXPERT OPINION: Brain imaging is of key importance in TBI management, enabling efficient and accurate diagnoses to be made, informing management decisions and contributing to prognostication. Developments in imaging techniques promise to improve understanding of the structural and functional derangements, improve management and guide the development and implementation of novel neuroprotective strategies following head injury.