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This study examines how injury mechanisms and early neuroimaging and clinical measures impact white matter (WM) fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), and tract volumes in the chronic phase of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and how WM integrity in the chronic phase is associated with different outcome measures obtained at the same time. Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) at 3 T was acquired more than 1 year after TBI in 49 moderate-to-severe-TBI survivors and 50 matched controls. DTI data were analyzed with tract-based spatial statistics and automated tractography. Moderate-to-severe TBI led to widespread FA decreases, MD increases, and tract volume reductions. In severe TBI and in acceleration/deceleration injuries, a specific FA loss was detected. A particular loss of FA was also present in the thalamus and the brainstem in all grades of diffuse axonal injury. Acute-phase Glasgow Coma Scale scores, number of microhemorrhages on T2*, lesion volume on fluid-attenuated inversion recovery, and duration of posttraumatic amnesia were associated with more widespread FA loss and MD increases in chronic TBI. Episodes of cerebral perfusion pressure <70 mmHg were specifically associated with reduced MD. Neither episodes of intracranial pressure >20 mmHg nor acute-phase Rotterdam CT scores were associated with WM changes. Glasgow Outcome Scale Extended scores and performance-based cognitive control functioning were associated with FA and MD changes, but self-reported cognitive control functioning was not. In conclusion, FA loss specifically reflects the primary injury severity and mechanism, whereas FA and MD changes are associated with objective measures of general and cognitive control functioning.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurosci Res

Publication Date





1109 - 1126


BRIEF, MRI, executive function, head injury, intensive care unit, Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Anisotropy, Brain Injuries, Case-Control Studies, Chronic Disease, Cognition Disorders, Diffusion Tensor Imaging, Executive Function, Female, Humans, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, Male, Middle Aged, Outcome Assessment, Health Care, Retrospective Studies, Self Report, Severity of Illness Index, Statistics, Nonparametric, White Matter, Young Adult