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MEG scans to detect brain injury

A new study by VA, the Department of Defense, and the University of California, San Diego, has yielded further evidence that a type of brain scan called magnetoencephalograhy (MEG) may be a useful tool for diagnosing traumatic brain injury (TBI). Many mild TBIs go undetected in conventional CT or MRI scans. MEG, on the other hand, seems able to pick up the subtle abnormalities in brain waves caused by these injuries. MEG works by capturing the magnetic impulses put out by brain cells. In the study, MEG detected mild TBI in 87 percent of cases and moderate TBI in 100 percent of cases. The study included 45 Veteran, military, and civilian patients with mild TBIs—about half from blasts. Also included were 10 patients with moderate TBI, all from non-blast causes, such as automobile accidents, sports injuries, or falls. Study leader Mingxiong Huang, PhD, says the new MEG techniques his team developed use automated processes that are highly accurate and objective, with little reliance on the subjective judgment or assessment of radiologists performing the scan and interpreting the results. The team is also conducting work that combines MEG with another type of imaging, a form of MRI known as diffusion tensor imaging. The two together may have an even stronger ability to accurately detect mild TBIs. (Neuroimage, online April 20, 2012)

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