Traumatic Brain Injuries and Advances Beyond Traditional CT Scans and MRI
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can occur when one sustains a violent blow to the head or body that will cause damage to the brain, or if an object pierces the skull to enter the brain tissue. Millions of people in the United States sustain brain injuries every year, and approximately half of these injuries, according to the National Institutes of Health, occur from motor vehicle accidents. While TBI symptoms can range from mild to severe, it is important that someone who has suffered from a head injury seeks medical aid in order to diagnose the severity of the injury.
Methods of diagnosis and treatment can vary based on the severity of the injury. Patients suffering from mild to moderate head injuries might receive x-rays of the skull and neck to check for fractures or any spinal instability. Moderate to severe cases, however, require a computed tomography (CT) scan and possibly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). CT scans are the most common method of diagnosing, as they easily reveal conditions caused by blood and swelling around the brain. MRI tends to follow CT scans if necessary and possible in order to further determine the extent of the injury and the kind of treatment required. In recent years, CT scans and MRI have undergone technological advancements that have increased physicians' capabilities in diagnosing and treating head injuries.
Multislice CT Scans: According to the Radiological Society of North America, traditional CT scans work by rotating x-ray beams and detectors around the body of the patient and transferring the gathered data to create two-dimensional images of the patient's body. The images produced are actually the result of many image slices assembled on a computer to create a detailed picture of the inside of the body. Multislice CT scans take this process a step further by producing thinner slices in a shorter period of time by collecting multiple slices of images in one rotation. This allows for even greater detail, which may allow physicians to pick up on previously undetectable conditions.
3-Tesla MRI: MRI produces detailed images of the inside of the patient's body through a combined use of a magnetic field and radio frequency pulses. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, MRI picks up on more traumatic abnormalities than would a CT scan. The MRI scanner creates the magnetic field around the imaging area, and the resultant excited hydrogen atoms emitted from the body will produce a radio frequency signal picked up by medical applications. Tesla is the unit of measurement for the strength of a magnetic field, according to 3T Imaging. While the high-field standard previously was 1.5 Tesla, the 3 Tesla machine, as its name indicates, produces a magnetic field twice the strength of the prior high-field standard. Thus, the 3T machine generates an image far clearer, which is especially useful in diagnosing conditions in the brain.
This is not the stopping point for medical imaging and diagnostic methods, especially regarding head injuries. Even with the highly advanced technology we have available for traumatic brain injuries today, more will follow, paving the way for faster, more efficient means of diagnoses and consequent better recovery rates.
Tyrone Law Firm represents clients who have suffered from traumatic brain injuries and other serious injuries through no fault of their own. If you are seeking legal representation to aid you in dealing with a traumatic brain injury or other serious injuries, please contact the firm to discuss your situation and see what it can do for you.
- RadiologyInfo.org: Providing information on CT scans and MRI and how to prepare for them
- "MRI, CT Remain Front and Center in Head Trauma Imaging," AuntMinnie.com, April 18, 2007
- National Institution of Neurological Disorders and Stroke