Concussive brain injury from explosive blast

Nihal C. de Lanerolle, Hamada Hamid, Joseph Kulas, Jullie W. Pan, Rebecca Czlapinski, Anthony Rinaldi, Geoffrey Ling, Faris A. Bandak, Hoby P. Hetherington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: Explosive blast mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is associated with a variety of symptoms including memory impairment and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Explosive shock waves can cause hippocampal injury in a large animal model. We recently reported a method for detecting brain injury in soldiers with explosive blast mTBI using magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI). This method is applied in the study of veterans exposed to blast. Methods: The hippocampus of 25 veterans with explosive blast mTBI, 20 controls, and 12 subjects with PTSD but without exposure to explosive blast were studied using MRSI at 7 Tesla. Psychiatric and cognitive assessments were administered to characterize the neuropsychiatric deficits and compare with findings from MRSI. Results: Significant reductions in the ratio of N-acetyl aspartate to choline (NAA/Ch) and N-acetyl aspartate to creatine (NAA/Cr) (P < 0.05) were found in the anterior portions of the hippocampus with explosive blast mTBI in comparison to control subjects and were more pronounced in the right hippocampus, which was 15% smaller in volume (P < 0.05). Decreased NAA/Ch and NAA/Cr were not influenced by comorbidities – PTSD, depression, or anxiety. Subjects with PTSD without blast had lesser injury, which tended to be in the posterior hippocampus. Explosive blast mTBI subjects had a reduction in visual memory compared to PTSD without blast. Interpretation: The region of the hippocampus injured differentiates explosive blast mTBI from PTSD. MRSI is quite sensitive in detecting and localizing regions of neuronal injury from explosive blast associated with memory impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)692-702
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Clinical and Translational Neurology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology


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