Two Tools Are Tested to Better Understand the Effects of Concussion on Patients’ Brains

(PHILADELPHIA) – Researchers are seeking to understand what happens inside the living brain after a concussion. In a study published in PLOS ONE, researchers at Thomas Jefferson University used single photon emission computed tomography (S.P.E.C.T.) to evaluate two different ways to measure physiological brain activity in Traumatic Brain Injury (T.B.I.) patients with chronic, mild symptoms. The findings of their blinded, case-control study are published in an article entitled, "Clinical Comparison of 99mTc Exametazime and 123I Ioflupane SPECT in Patients with Chronic Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.” The study included 25 cases and 10 controls.

Said Andrew Newberg, MD, Principal Investigator of the study and a Professor of Radiology at Thomas Jefferson University, “This is an important study that shows the potential use for cerebral blood flow and dopamine transporter imaging in the evaluation of patients with chronic head injury. Both imaging techniques provide important and distinct information about the effect of T.B.I. on brain function.”

The researchers used S.P.E.C.T. to track cerebral blood flow (C.B.F.); the movement of blood through the brain, and to measure the neurotransmitter dopamine by tracking the binding of a dopamine transporter (D.A.T.) tracer.

T.B.I. patients were discovered to have an average of six brain regions with abnormal perfusion, while controls had an average of two abnormal regions (P<0.0001). Patients with headaches had lower C.B.F. in the right frontal lobe and higher C.B.F. in the left parietal lobe compared to patients without headaches. Lower C.B.F. in the right temporal lobe correlated with poorer reported physical health. Higher D.A.T. binding was associated with more depressive symptoms and overall poorer reported mental health. However, there was no clear association between C.B.F. and D.A.T. binding in the patients studied.

Researchers concluded that S.P.E.C.T. imaging of D.A.T. and C.B.F. were useful tools that provide distinct information about brain physiology after T.B.I.

                                                                    - 30 -

About Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson University (TJU), the largest freestanding academic medical center in Philadelphia, is nationally renowned for medical and health sciences education and innovative research. Founded in 1824, TJU includes Jefferson Medical College (JMC), one of the largest private medical schools in the country and ranked among the nation’s best medical schools by U.S. News & World Report, and the Jefferson Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions, Population Health and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Jefferson University Physicians is TJU’s multi-specialty physician practice consisting of the full-time faculty of JMC. Thomas Jefferson University partners with its clinical affiliate, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals.

For more information, contact Katie Krauss, (215) 955-5507,,

Published: 01-29-2014

Close Window