Neuropathology of mild traumatic brain injury: relationship to neuroimaging findings

Author(s): Bigler ED, Maxwell WL

Abstract

Neuroimaging identified abnormalities associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI) are but gross indicators that reflect underlying trauma-induced neuropathology at the cellular level. This review examines how cellular pathology relates to neuroimaging findings with the objective of more closely relating how neuroimaging findings reveal underlying neuropathology. Throughout this review an attempt will be made to relate what is directly known from post-mortem microscopic and gross anatomical studies of TBI of all severity levels to the types of lesions and abnormalities observed in contemporary neuroimaging of TBI, with an emphasis on mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). However, it is impossible to discuss the neuropathology of mTBI without discussing what occurs with more severe injury and viewing pathological changes on some continuum from the mildest to the most severe. Historical milestones in understanding the neuropathology of mTBI are reviewed along with implications for future directions in the examination of neuroimaging and neuropathological correlates of TBI.

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