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J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 74:33-38 doi:10.1136/jnnp.74.1.33
  • Paper

Thalamic proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in vegetative state induced by traumatic brain injury

  1. M Uzan1,
  2. S Albayram2,
  3. S G R Dashti1,
  4. S Aydin1,
  5. M Hanci1,
  6. C Kuday1
  1. 1Department of Neurosurgery, Cerrahpasa Medical School, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey
  2. 2Department of Radiology, Cerrahpasa Medical School, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr M Uzan, PO Box 5, Cerrahpasa 34301, Istanbul, Turkey;
 uzan{at}istanbul.edu.tr
  • Received 4 September 2001
  • Accepted 30 August 2002
  • Revised 21 August 2002

Abstract

Objectives: To determine whether proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), a newer radiographic technology, would be useful in the evaluation of the thalamus of patients in vegetative states resulting from traumatic brain injury.

Methods: 14 victims of severe traumatic brain injury who were in the vegetative state and whose magnetic resonance images of the thalamus were normal underwent bilateral thalamic proton (MRS) studies. The N-acetyl aspartate to creatine (NAA:Cr) and choline to creatine (Cho:Cr) ratios were obtained for each patient. The proton thalamic MRS findings of patients who were in a persistent vegetative state (n = 8) and in patients who had regained awareness after being in the vegetative state (n = 6) were compared with proton thalamic MRS findings in five healthy volunteers.

Results: While conventional magnetic resonance imaging suggested that each patient had a normal thalamus, proton MRS indicated that the thalamus of each patient in the series was damaged. The NAA:Cr ratio was significantly lower in the thalami of both the patients who remained in a persistent vegetative state for the duration of the study and in those who regained awareness after being in the vegetative state (p < 0.001). In addition, NAA:Cr ratios were lower in the group of patients who remained in a persistent vegetative state than in the group of patients who regained awareness after being in the vegetative state (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Results suggest that the NAA:Cr ratio within the thalamus is significant and that thalamic MRS may be helpful when attempting to determine the degree of severity of neuronal and axonal injury in patients in the vegetative state.

Footnotes

  • Competing interests: none declared

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