The U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) manages a project to detect a new dimension in imaging. The new technology is able to detect minute levels of vascular damage in the form of bleeding, clots, and reduced levels of oxygenation to give military and medical experts better information on brain injuries especially related to trauma.
Dr. E. Mark Haacke of Wayne State University is managing the research project primarily focusing on imaging veins as veins have relatively more fragile vessel walls than arteries and are more susceptible to damage during head injuries.
The researchers are exploring advanced magnetic resonance imaging methods and “Susceptibility Weighted Imaging and Mapping” referred to as SWIM to improve the diagnosis and outcome prediction of mild traumatic brain injury. Dr. Haacke and Dr Zhifeng Kou are now working to complete a larger database of normal and mildly brain-injured imaging scans so that SWIM can be run at most clinical sites.
This project has demonstrated that there is a lower impact load, either inertia or direct impact forces which may damage only veins, and researchers have determined medullary vein damage that was not visualized with other techniques. The medullary veins drain the frontal white matter of the brain, so reduced blood flow could possibly impair the higher level frontal neurocognitive functions.
According to Anthony Pacifico, Manager of TATRC’s Medical Imaging Technologies Portfolio, ‘Dr. Haacke’s team has a different slant for studying these injury regions that may lead to a new avenue in diagnosis and treatment for traumatic or other types of brain injuries.” As Dr. Haacke reports the study of dementia could well benefit from the research since as much as one-third of all dementia is vascular dementia.”