Diffuse Axonal Injury at Ultra-High Field MRI
Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is a specific type of traumatic brain injury caused by shearing forces leading to widespread tearing of axons and small vessels. Traumatic microbleeds (TMBs) are regarded as a radiological marker for DAI. This study aims to compare DAIassociated TMBs at 3 Tesla (T) and 7 T susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) to evaluate possible diagnostic benefits of ultra-high field (UHF) MRI.
Material and Methods
10 study participants (4 male, 6 female, age range 20-74 years) with known DAI were included. All MR exams were performed with a 3 T MR system (Magnetom Skyra) and a 7 T MR research system (Magnetom 7 T, Siemens AG, Healthcare Sector, Erlangen, Germany) each in combination with a 32-channel-receive coil. The average time interval between trauma and imaging was 22 months. Location and count of TMBs were independently evaluated by two neuroradiologists on 3 T and 7 T SWI images with similar and additionally increased spatial resolution at 7 T. Inter- and intraobserver reliability was assessed using the interclass correlation coefficient (ICC). Count and diameter of TMB were evaluated with Wilcoxon signed rank test.
Susceptibility weighted imaging revealed a total of 485 TMBs (range 1-190, median 25) at 3 T, 584 TMBs (plus 20%, range 1-262, median 30.5) at 7 T with similar spatial resolution, and 684 TMBs (plus 41%, range 1-288, median 39.5) at 7 T with 10-times higher spatial resolution. Hemorrhagic DAI appeared significantly larger at 7 T compared to 3 T (p = 0.005). Inter- and intraobserver correlation regarding the counted TMB was high and almost equal 3 T and 7 T.
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