Research Reports - Early cortical thickness change after mild traumatic brain injury

J Neurotrauma. 2015 Apr 1;32(7):455-63

Wang X(1), Xie H, Cotton AS, Tamburrino MB, Brickman KR, Lewis TJ, McLean SA,
Liberzon I

In a motor vehicle collision (MVC), survivors often receive mild traumatic brain
injuries (mTBI). Although there have been some reports of early white matter
changes after an mTBI, much less is known about early cortical structural
changes. To investigate early cortical changes within a few days after an MVC, we
compared cortical thickness of mTBI survivors with non-mTBI survivors, then
reexamined cortical thickness in the same survivors 3 months later. MVC survivors
were categorized as mTBI or non-mTBI based on concussive symptoms documented in
emergency departments (EDs). Cortical thickness was measured from MRI images
using FreeSurfer within a few days and again at 3 months after MVC.
Post-traumatic stress symptoms and physical conditions were also assessed.
Compared with the non-mTBI group (n=23), the mTBI group (n=21) had thicker cortex
in the left rostral middle frontal (rMFG) and right precuneus gyri, but thinner
cortex in the left posterior middle temporal gyrus at 7.2±3.1 days after MVC.
After 3 months, cortical thickness had decreased in left rMFG in the mTBI group
but not in the non-mTBI group. The cortical thickness of the right precuneus
region in the initial scans was positively correlated with acute traumatic stress
symptoms for all survivors and with the number of reduced activity days for mTBI
survivors who completed the follow-up. The preliminary results suggest that
alterations in cortical thickness may occur at an early stage of mTBI and that
frontal cortex structure may change dynamically over the initial 3 months after
mTBI.

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