Purpose: To evaluate whether adding a contrast-enhanced fluid-attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) sequence to routine magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can detect additional abnormalities in the brains of symptomatic patients with mild traumatic brain injury. Materials and Methods: Fifty-four patients with persistent symptoms following mild closed head injury were included in our retrospective study (M:F = 32:22, mean age: 59.8±16.4, age range: 26-84 years). All MRI examinations were obtained within 14 days after head trauma (mean: 3.2±4.1 days, range: 0.2-14 days). Two neuroradiologists recorded (1) the presence of traumatic brain lesions on MR images with and without contrast-enhanced FLAIR images and (2) the pattern and location of meningeal enhancement depicted on contrast-enhanced FLAIR images. The number of additional traumatic brain lesions diagnosed with contrast-enhanced FLAIR was recorded. Correlations between meningeal enhancement and clinical findings were also evaluated. Results: Traumatic brain lesions were detected on routine image sequences in 25 patients. Three additional cases of brain abnormality were detected with the contrast-enhanced FLAIR images. Meningeal enhancement was identified on contrast-enhanced FLAIR images in 9 cases while the other routine image sequences showed no findings of traumatic brain injury. Overall, the additional contrast-enhanced FLAIR images revealed more extensive abnormalities than routine imaging in 37 cases (p<0.001). In multivariate logistic regression analysis, subdural hematoma and posttraumatic loss of consciousness showed a significant association with meningeal enhancement on contrast-enhanced FLAIR images, with odds ratios 13.068 (95% confidence interval 2.037 to 83.852), and 15.487 (95% confidence interval 2.545 to 94.228), respectively. Conclusion: Meningeal enhancement on contrast-enhanced FLAIR images can help detect traumatic brain lesions as well as additional abnormalities not identified on routine unenhanced MRI. Therefore contrast-enhanced FLAIR MR imaging is recommended when a contrast MR study is indicated in a patient with a symptomatic prior closed mild head injury.
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