MRIs and CT Scans Can Miss Symptoms of Concussion or TBI
When you’ve suffered any type of bump or blow to the head, regardless of how severe it may seem, it’s critical that you seek immediate medical attention. Even minor trauma to your brain, if in the right place, can be serious or even fatal. Authorities believe that comedian Bob Saget died from complications of a traumatic brain injury sustained when he fell in his hotel room and hit the back of his head. Natasha Richardson, the wife of actor Liam Neeson, died from similar injuries suffered while taking a skiing lesson—she had initially declined medical care. In both instances, an early and accurate diagnosis of traumatic brain injury might have saved their lives.
Unfortunately, diagnosing a concussion or traumatic brain injury can be complicated. Such an injury won’t show up on an x-ray. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, CT scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology will often miss the symptoms of a serious and potentially deadly head injury. In fact, studies show that as many as four of every five traumatic brain injuries won’t be found on an MRI or a CT scan.
The Different Types of TBIs
As a general rule, traumatic brain injuries are categorized as mild, moderate or severe. About three of every four TBIs are considered mild (also referred to as “concussions”), and typically involve loss of consciousness (if at all) for less than 30 minutes. A moderate TBI generally manifests with loss of consciousness for more than 30 minutes, but less than 24 hours. Any traumatic brain injury involving loss of consciousness for more than a day is typically referred to as severe.
Why Won’t an MRI or CT Scan Diagnose Most Traumatic Brain Injuries?
A CT (computerized tomography) scan is a composite of images prepared by a computer. During the scan, x-rays are taken from different angles of the specific area of your body. Because of the greater number of angles and the three-dimensional nature of a CT scan, they are better at providing detailed information about bones, blood vessels and obvious soft-tissue trauma. CT scans often miss mild to moderate soft-tissue trauma, though, and typically don’t pick up fluid retention and other factors that may pose health risks.
An MRI chamber or machine creates images of organs or inner body cavities by using radio waves and magnetic fields. An MRI can provide a level of detail significantly greater than a CT scan, but can also miss less than obvious soft-tissue trauma or inflammation.
It’s also important to understand that, because many of the symptoms and consequences of a traumatic brain injury can take days, weeks or even months to fully appear, some of the indicia of a traumatic brain injury that might appear on a CT scan or MRI, such as brain bleeds or nerve fiber damage, may not yet be present. That’s why it’s important to seek ongoing medical attention after a bump or blow to the head. A great place to start? Your primary care physician, who can conduct a preliminary assessment and either institute a treatment regimen or refer you to a specialist.
Contact the Aggressive Personal Injury Lawyers at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client, including anyone who has suffered any type of head injury. For an appointment with a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.