Understanding Diagnostic Testing For Traumatic Brain Injury

If a person has sustained a head injury or is experiencing neurological issues, their physician will order one or more diagnostic tests in an attempt to locate and identify the problem. Just the short common names of these tests are intimidating to a great many people. They seem to provoke a sense of impending bad news to some when in actuality they are extremely helpful and save lives. The test can rule out the presence of a traumatic brain injury as well as locate one.

The most commonly used and well known diagnostic tests for determining the location and extent of a traumatic brain injury are:

Computerized Tomography (CT) Scans – This test, also referred to as a CAT scan (computed axial tomography) is one of two tests that can allow doctors to view the brain in virtual slices and three dimensional images. It is uses X-ray technology for intracranial hemorrhage and cerebrovascular injury diagnosis. Tomography is defined as the sectional imaging.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – The MRI, like the CT, also allows the sectional viewing of the brain. It is a valuable tool for identifying diseased brain tissue as well as brain tumors with the use of magnetic fields. When many tests are required it is preferred over the CT because the use of magnetic fields has no after effects as is possible with radiation.

SPECT Scanning – Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography uses a gamma camera that rotates around the head taking pictures from many angles. A computer then forms a three dimensional tomographic image, or cross section. A gamma emitting chemical travels though the blood stream after injection which shows the blood flow of the veins and arteries in the brain.

Electroencephalography (EEG) – This test monitors the electrical activity of a patient’s brain. Electrodes are placed in different locations on the scalp. These electrodes provide the ability to measure brain activity directly rather than through blood flow.

Diagnostic testing can provide the neurologist or other doctor with information that may be used to prevent damage to the brain or to determine the best treatment for the patient. A negative test is often considered bad news when in actuality it means nothing was found. Whereas a positive test indicated that something was found. A positive test does not indicate any level of severity.

The physician may use the results of the diagnostic test to help the patient understand the cause of any symptoms and to discuss the options for treatment as well as the prognosis. With the use of one or more of these tests the doctor will have a clear picture of what occurred inside the skull. With a pinpointed location and extent of the injury the doctor will be able to use a narrowed approach to treatment of a specific area.

Traumatic brain injuries are generally, but not always, caused by a shaking or non-penetrating blow to the head. The most frequent cause is motor vehicle accidents, followed by falling and contact sports. Some injuries occur immediately after a head trauma while others can develop days, weeks, months or even years later. Recently a great deal of public awareness has been focused on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) a degenerative brain injury that increasingly worsens over decades following repeated concussions. There have been several suits filed on behalf of former sports participants in the NFL and the NHL regarding CTE. Any person who suffered a traumatic brain injury due to negligence or malice should consult a brain injury attorney to discuss their options.

Dolman Law Group has represented the victims of traumatic brain injuries successfully for many years. If you, or a loved, one were injured call today for a free evaluation of your case.

Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652
(727) 853-6275