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.

4 Things Your Radiologist Wants You to Know

1. You Cannot Get Cancer from Any Imaging Procedure

Any radiologist could tell you this is not an uncommon concern. It would not seem a smart idea for us to get into a field that promoted or produced cancer in our patients, would it? We would be putting ourselves out of business. There are some sensational articles that claim that medical imaging procedures like CTs and PET-CT scans can lead to cancer but these have never been validated and medical imaging is the best method for diagnosis without incisions or exploratory surgery. In fact, medical imaging is how cancer is uncovered so that it can be treated.

2. Being Informed is the Best Way to Feel Comfortable

We understand that having a medical imaging procedure performed can be a nervous experience, especially if you have never had it done before. However, any radiologist would tell you that the more questions you ask and information you search for, the more you will see that there is nothing to be afraid of. But be sure of where you are getting that research from, there is a lot of misinformation in this field.

3. The Quality of Your Images Depends on the Equipment Used

With every procedure, the goal is to look inside the body’s structures and functions and see if there is anything concerning. With every kind of medical imaging procedure, there are different kinds of equipment and hence, qualities of images. For example, an MRI’s quality of images can differ between open and standard MRI machines. There are different slice capabilities in CT equipment that can effect the quality of the images and interpretations. Whenever you are having a medical imaging procedure, see if you can find out about the equipment that will be used. The best equipment means the best images which means the most accurate diagnosis.

4. The Field of Radiology is Always Changing

Like most medical fields, the field of radiology is an ever-changing one. There are always new advances, discoveries and innovations and we as radiologists have to stay updated. What is the standard today might be totally obsolete by tomorrow. But because of the changing nature of this field, that means constant improvement which we consider a benefit for our patients. At Doctors Imaging in Metairie, our radiologists are committed to bringing the state of the art equipment and the latest innovations in our field like open MRIs, digital X-rays, and our new Concussion Imaging Program that uses qDTI, a very advanced MRI technique.

Have more questions about radiology or having your medical imaging procedure? You can call our offices at 504-833-8111 or use our Request an Appointment page to schedule a consultation.