How DTI Is Aiding Studies of Concussions, Chronic Fatigue and Autism

Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) exams are receiving more and more attention in the public and medical field because of the light they have shed on certain neurological and mental conditions. DTI is an advanced form of MRI technology that is able to closely follow the flow of water throughout the brain’s pathways giving doctors a better understanding of brain injuries and connectivity.


DTI is used for determining the extent of brain damage from causes such as concussions. Concussions can happen during car accidents and other serious head injuries.

MRIs vs DTI for Concussions

Unlike conventional MRIs that use magnetic fields and computer technology to excite and then map the hydrogen atoms of the body, DTI machinery tracks the pathway of water throughout the brain. Because water in the brain only goes in one direction, it is easier to track this motion and thus map the different nerve paths of the brain as they are very complex and convoluted.

Once the nerve pathways are clearly mapped, neurologists can see if there is damage, bleeds or symptoms of other neurological or mental conditions.

Thanks to DTI, concussions are now being more thoroughly imaged. Before the advanced technology of DTI, concussions could be examined through conventional MRIs but small bleeds and nerve damage were always difficult to identify — especially in the white matter areas of the brain. Now, doctors can track the nerve pathways in the brain with high clarity and understand the genetic and biological causes of some medical conditions.

DTI and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Recently, DTI has been used to identify brain abnormalities that lead to chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Feeling fatigued is not an unusual symptom to have, but for some people, fatigue cannot be fought with adequate sleep or stress-relieving activities. Thanks to imaging techniques, the causes of chronic fatigue syndrome have finally been identified.

In a 2014 study published online in the journal Radiology, researchers found that those complaining of CFS symptoms had “lower white matter volume” as well as high FA values (measurement of diffusion of water in the specific tract within the right hemisphere), suggesting that this is the area of the brain where “the more abnormal the tract, the worse the fatigue.”

DTI, Fragile X and Austism

In another 2014 study, DTI was instrumental in uncovering the area of the brain that possibly contributes to autism. Scientists determined that Fragile X syndrome is the leading cause of mental developmental issues and the most frequent cause of autism spectrum disorders. Their conclusion found that FMRP (fragile X mental retardation protein) is critical in brain development and that if the correct positioning of brain cells during the development of the cortex is not made, autistic traits can emerge as a child becomes older. Source: Scientists at VIB and KU Leuven (Belgium), in collaboration with Tor Vergata University (Italy) and VU University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

DTI Now Available at Doctors Imaging

These factors could not have been studied in such high detail without the help of DTI. This advanced imaging technology could help scientists find the causes and cures for more diseases and conditions in the years to come.
Doctors Imaging is the first facility in Louisiana to offer DTI exams. If you have more questions about the symptoms of concussion, loss of sensation after a head injury or how DTI works, please visit the dedicated website TheConcussionGroup.com.

Car Accident Head Injuries, Safety and Precautions

Car accidents can be some of the scariest moments of one’s life. Despite the innovations and advances in automobile safety technology, human error is still hard to beat. About 20 percent of all reported head injuries are the result of an automobile accidents. Buckling seatbelts is a major preventative measure that everyone should apply when riding in a car. However, car accident head injuries can still come from steering wheel collisions, airbag deployment as well as window, windshield and debris injury.

Head injuries can vary in the degree of seriousness. Some people walk away with a bump on the head often referred to as a contusion, others suffer from conditions like concussions, and some have more traumatic brain injuries such as memory loss. In the event of a car accident, having the proper body and brain imaging can be a major protective measure against the progression of the injury.

At Doctors Imaging, we have lots of experience helping those who have suffered from car accident head injuries. Whether it is our digital X-ray capabilities for broken bones or more advanced exams to determine the extent of brain injury, at Doctors Imaging we are committed to providing high-quality imaging services for the greater New Orleans area.

Our most detailed exam for brain injuries is diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Because car accident head injuries are so common, we are proud to be offering this service to the Gulf South region because of the numerous benefits it provides. Diffusion tensor imaging is an advanced form of MRI that traces the movement of water and hydrogen atoms in the nerve pathways of the brain.

A DTI exam measures brain injuries that are not seen on MRI and CT scans performed elsewhere.

Conventional MRI scans are the best for determining internal or soft tissue damage in the body. However, CT scans and MRI are not adequate for tracing the nerve pathways in the white matter of the brain and highlighting otherwise unseen brain injuries. DTI goes further than a conventional brain scan. Water molecules follow a certain pattern in the brain along the nerve pathways. When you can see that the path has been disrupted, physicians know to look further into this area to find possible injury. Because head injuries can appear non-threatening, they can develop into more serious conditions in the weeks and months after the accident.

DTI is especially useful for patients who have suffered a concussion. Some concussions can heal in a few days while others can leave more lasting injuries. The only way that diffusion tensor imaging can be performed is with a 3.0 Tesla MRI and special software capabilities. Doctors Imaging is the only facility in the Gulf South. For this reason, we see patients from all over the region who are looking to determine the extent of their sport, work injuries and car accident head injuries.

If you have more questions about head injuries, diffusion tensor imaging or other injuries that require imaging, please contact Doctors Imaging at 504-833-8111 or visit the website of The Concussion Group for more information. If you would like to set up an appointment for imaging, you can use our Request Appointment page any time.

Do You Have Concussion Symptoms?

Concussions (Mild Traumatic Brain Injury or mTBI) have long been a mysterious and worrying injury for doctors to examine. Concussion symptoms can range anywhere from unconsciousness to memory loss to a slight headache. There is such a range of symptoms that it can be a difficult task for physicians to medically diagnose a concussion.

Most head injuries are minor — bumps, headaches or the occasional fall. These types of injuries happen with few repercussions. When they’re not, though, they can lead to serious short-term and long-term problems, including dizziness, headache, memory loss and slurred speech, to name a few.

Sometimes concussions are immediately apparent. Other times, the symptoms are not as obvious. Here are a few signs you should look for in a concussion:

  1. Not thinking clearly
  2. Slow reaction time
  3. Lack of concentration
  4. Loss of memory
  5. Headache(s)
  6. Blurred vision
  7. Nausea or vomiting
  8. Dizziness
  9. Sensitivity to light or noise
  10. Feeling tired or lacking energy
  11. Increased sadness
  12. Nervousness
  13. More emotional
  14. Change in sleep patterns

If you think you might have a concussion, it is crucial that you contact a professional as quickly as possible. This is far easier said than done, though. The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Some symptoms may last for days, or even longer.

Many concussion symptoms may occur without a concussion, which means they can be especially difficult to diagnose. If you have several of these symptoms, though, you should contact a physician immediately. Even if immediate attention isn’t needed, having a concussion without proper medical attention can lead to long-term problems.

How Concussions Happen

In layman’s terms, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body. This can come from a fall, a hit or any other injury that violently shakes the brain inside of the skull.

Basically, your brain is surrounded by spinal fluid and protected by your skull. The fluid normally acts as a cushion, but when your head gets hit too hard, the brain can crash into the skull and get injured. This typically results in a concussion.

Concussions are unusual for most people but for athletes, some workers, and extreme sports enthusiasts, concussions are more common. The problem with this is that as more research is being done on the long-term effects of concussions on professional athletes, we are learning that these bumps on the noggin can have a much deeper consequence.

DTI Exams Measure Brain Injuries Unseen on Other Exams

Any kind of traumatic brain injury is cause for concern but now Doctors Imaging has a beneficial new technology that can help determine the extent of brain injury and nerve damage due to a concussion. It’s called Diffusion Tensor Imaging or DTI.

Doctors Imaging was the first to introduce New Orleans to a 3.0T MRI and we added Diffusion Tensor Imaging to our services in 2016. Where standard MRIs are well-equipped to obtain useful and comprehensive images of brain tissue, DTI is an advanced form of MRI technology that improves diagnostic practices, particularly in the diagnosis of and recovery from concussions.

Most MRIs can tell if there is tissue damage or bleeding, but DTI exams measure whether there is nerve damage in specific areas of the brain’s white matter. Along with internal bleeding, nerve damage is the primary concern for physicians when dealing with a concussed patient. If you were to look at the health histories of former football players or boxers, you would notice that they have a higher prevalence of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease) and other neurological disorders as they age. Many people believe the increased incidence of these diseases in these athletes comes from repeated exposure to head and back trauma.

DTI exams are able to focus on the connecting circuits of the brain and localize nerve damage. By recognizing this nerve damage, doctors can keep a close eye on their patient and help them during the recovery from their injury.

One factor that most doctors are very concerned about when they are seeing a concussion patient is an axonal injury. An axonal injury happens when a brain injury causes extensive lesions in the white matter tracts in a widespread or localized area. Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is so worrying because it can be indicative of long-term brain deficiency. DAI occurs in almost half of all concussion cases. And now with a DTI exam, doctors will be able to make diagnoses and recoveries easier and more beneficial.

As with MRI exams, DTI exams do not use radiation. It is a non-invasive exam and has extremely high success rates. So if you or someone you know has concussion symptoms, be sure learn more about DTI exams from our medical partners at The Concussion Group.

Diagnosing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with DTI MRI

Between our work, family, school, and social lives, fatigue is a common feeling among people. Fatigue is one of the most reported symptoms to physicians. Defined as “extreme tiredness or exhaustion,” it can be hard for doctors to tell if a patient is simply tired or if there is a contributing condition like chronic fatigue syndrome that may be causing their exhaustion.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is described as more than just the usual day-to-day tiredness. This condition’s symptoms include an exhaustion that is both debilitating and without cause. This means that although you may have extreme tired feelings, chronic fatigue is usually accompanied by impaired memory or concentration, dizziness, inability to stay awake or upright, and overwhelming exhaustion without exertion. Persisting longer than 6 months, this condition requires more than a caffeine fix and a good night’s sleep – it needs medical attention.

CFS can become more than just debilitating, it can be dangerous as well. Fatigue of this degree can become problematic when one is driving or operating heavy machinery. The other concern with most doctors in diagnosing symptoms in relation to chronic fatigue is that they can resemble other diseases like lyme disease, major depressive disorder, lupus, and hypothyroidism. Hopefully the rampant confusion can be laid to rest finally thanks to innovative technologies like diffuse tensor imaging.

Diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) is a form of advanced MRI in which the nerve fibers of the brain can be specifically highlighted and imaged to determine possible damage from things like concussions or conditions like chronic fatigue. In the same way that MRIs use sound waves and computer technology in order to image the internal organs, diffuse tensor imaging focuses on the nerve fibers in the brain and is able to image them with startling detail. Where MRIs can show the musculoskeletal and vascular system, going even deeper into the nerves is where doctors can see definitive proof of chronic fatigue syndrome. In the results found in one recent study, those suffering from this syndrome had more white matter in their brain and had “two connection points in the brains…were thicker than the same connection in healthier patients. In essence, “the more abnormal the tract, the worse the fatigue.”

When the nerve fibers in the brain are experiencing irregularity or degeneration, in combination with the aforementioned symptoms, doctors can diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome faster and with more accuracy. The time delay and inconsistency that was once prominent with this condition can now be eliminated thanks to the advanced MRI technology made by diffusion tensor imaging. Doctors Imaging currently offers DTI for concussion evaluations.

If you’re in the Metairie, Louisiana area, you can schedule your MRI online today, or by calling Doctors Imaging at 504-883-8111.