Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a common cause of neurological damage and disability. Conventional imaging (CT scan or MRI) is highly sensitive in detecting lesions and provides important clinical information regarding the need for acute intervention. However, abnormalities detected by CT scan or conventional MRI have limited importance in the classification of the degree of clinical severity and in predicting patients' outcome. This can be explained by the widespread microscopic tissue damage occurring after trauma, which is not observable with the conventional structural imaging methods. Advances in neuroimaging over the past two decades have greatly helped in the clinical care and management of patients with TBI. The advent of newer and more sensitive imaging techniques is now being used to better characterize the nature and evolution of injury and the underlying mechanisms that lead to progressive neurodegeneration, recovery or subsequent plasticity. This review will describe the role of proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic (MRS), an advanced MRI technique as related to its use in TBI. Proton MRS is a noninvasive approach that acquires metabolite information reflecting neuronal integrity and function from multiple brain regions and allows to assess clinical severity and to predict disease outcome.
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