Understanding Brain Injury Scans After an Accident

There is no doubt that motorcycle, car and truck accidents will affect many areas of the body. Head, neck, and back injuries are amongst the most common, but these accidents can affect internal organs and limbs as well. Head and neck injuries also known as traumatic brain injury (TBI) results in serious consequences. Brain injury often leads to temporary/permanent loss of brain function. Skull fractures, bruising (bleeding), herniated discs, and axon damage are generally involved in these types of accidents. Brain injury can be very difficult to diagnose (test for). Quite often concussions, seizures, headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory loss, depression, and anxiety are involved in traumatic brain injury. Brain injury scans are required such as Pet scans, CT scans, MRIs, and general neurological tests.

What type of brain injury you have depends on the direction of impact, the vehicle you were in and what you collided with. For that reason, it is important to understand how the accident took place and make sure it is well documented. This mechanism of injury is key. Brain injuries might not show up immediately after your accident and can take months later to diagnose properly. Chances are you will need the assistance of an experienced brain injury lawyer. If you have been injured or someone you loved has been killed in a truck, car, or motorcycle accident, contact the Personal injury lawyers at the Ohio-based law firm of Chester Law Group to see if you qualify for a Personal injury settlement.

Contact the Chester Law Group at 800-218-4243 or send us an email from our Contact page.


Understanding Types of Medical Scans

Not all scans are created equal. Some scans are great for brain structure while others look at brain function. Let’s take a look at CT Scans, MRI Scans, and PET Scans and see how they differ in what they can tell us about brain injury.

Different Types of Brain Scans

CT Scan

Computerized Tomography Scans, or CT Scans, are the first form of imaging used to make an initial evaluation of acute head trauma (recent injury). Simply put a CT Scan uses a computer to form an image of the brain by using X-rays. CT Scans are quick to do and are for acute brain trauma (within 72 hours) and is the scan of choice. Most acute care facilities will have a CT scanner making this form of the scan just about available everywhere. Since the patient is not inside any housing like MRI scans, the patient can have intravenous hookups as well as other equipment attached to them. CT Scans are great for identifying bleeding areas in the brain and better than regular X-rays to see bone fractures. On the other hand, a CT is only a structural scan with poor detail and is not good for observing brain injury days to weeks after the accident.

MRI Scan

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging, and this diagnostic tool makes use of magnetic fields to image the brain. This is different from a CT Scan as the CT Scan uses X-rays. The patient is placed inside a magnetic tunnel so you can’t have any medical attachments to your body. The MRI Scan is the most sensitive of the structural scans. The MRI scan provides more detail than a CT Scan and can be used to view brain injury that is days to weeks old. The nice thing about an MRI is that you don’t have to get zapped by X-rays which can be carcinogenic. MRI imaging takes good pictures for side views of the body which the CT doesn’t do well at all. The MRI Scan is also good to visualize blood vessels.

The newest of MRI Scan technologies are excellent for subtle brain injury. These MRI machines have greater magnet strength (3.0 Tesla versus 1.5 Tesla) providing for greater resolution. This new system has the ability to take 1mm thick slices which allows for the observance of post-concussion syndrome which previously was not possible to observe. In fact, the post-concussion syndrome was dubbed the ‘invisible injury” because it couldn’t be seen. This new advance in MRI technology can actually provide documentation of mild forms of brain injury not possible before.

PET Scan

Positron Emission Tomography, or simply PET, is a part of nuclear medicine. PET Scans were first used in research but then graduated to the clinical setting in the 1990s. This form of scan allows the doctor to see brain function as opposed to structure. Pet scans can produce imagery for post-traumatic brain injury, tumors and movement disorders and is a safe form of scanning. This scan is able to observe metabolic changes in the brain before structural changes occur. Pet scans can determine brain injury whether it is caused by an accident, genetic or just general brain dysfunction. It can localize seizure activity, abnormal blood flows, dementia, tumors, degenerative brain diseases, and observe scar tissue to name a few.

A PET Scan makes use of a radioactive tracer. For brain scans, they use a radioactive form of glucose. Not to worry, it is safe. This tracer is administered by inhalation or injection. The radioactive form of glucose is broken down in your body within hours of administration. You will be able to resume your normal activities once you are done with the scan. Glucose is used by the body to generate ATP which is the energy currency of the body. This way the doctor can observe changes in brain activity. If you have high brain activity, then the radioactive glucose will be consumed quickly and in areas of lower metabolic activity the glucose will remain around longer. This provides an image of brain function and can be compared to a normal brain. This is a very powerful tool but bear in mind that it can take up to two hours to complete.

Future Brain Scans

It is important to understand that brain injury is a continuing process and not a single event. Brain injury can escalate for many hours to days after trauma. Brain inflammation contributes to a decrease in blood flow and oxygen to the brain throughout causing further damage. The brain should be revisited within 12 hours after trauma and again months later as determined by your doctor depending on what he/she initially observed.

If you have been seriously hurt in a truck, car or motorcycle accident and experienced brain inflammation, loss of consciousness, headaches and/or behavioral changes, you may be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills and lost wages. These types of accidents generally involve long-term complications, so you need to be concerned about continued medical care and continued loss of brain function. At Chester Law Group, we specialize in personal injuries caused by truck and motorcycle accidents involving spinal injury.

It is important to consult with an attorney before you attend a Defense Medical Exam (DME) and don’t ask the defense doctor for advice. With Chester Law Group, your Brain Injury Accident Lawyer will advise you every step of the way.