Study: Some Brain Injuries Don't Show Up in Standard MRI, CT Scans

Researchers might have solved the mystery of why some military personnel exposed to blasts show symptoms of brain injury even though their MRI and CT scans appear normal.

With diffusion tensor imaging, a special MRI technique, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis working with militry researchers based in Germany found in some troops evidence of brain injuries that didn't show up in standard scans, The New York Times reports. All had received a prior diagnosis of concussion based on their physical symptoms. 

Most MRI machines can perform diffusion tensor imaging, which takes no longer and costs no more than a standard MRI.

From the story, here's how it works:

The test measures the movement of water in nerve fibers in the brain; abnormal flow may indicate injury. Changes can be detected in bundles of thousands of axons, the fibers that carry signals.

With around one in five veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars impacted by traumatic brain injuries, according to the Rand Corporation, traumatic brain injuries seem to be gaining more attention from device researchers.

—Jamie Hartford