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Objective: To evaluate the hypothesis that the extent of corpus callosum injury indicates the depth of shearing lesions in the central brain structure and therefore relates to the clinical severity of diffuse axonal injury.
Methods: A simple and objective procedure for semiquantitative analysis of magnetic resonance images (MRI)—the maximum signal intensity ratio (MSIR)—was employed prospectively in 21 patients with diffuse axonal injury but without apparent injury to the ventral pons. All were diagnosed using serial combination MRI scans of fluid attenuated inversion recovery (FLAIR) and T2* weighted gradient echo imaging during the initial two weeks after the injury. The signal intensity ratio between the two regions of interest—the corpus callosum and the normal appearing ventral pons—was calculated serially in mid-sagittal and parasagittal FLAIR image sections in each patient. The MSIR during the study period was determined as a semiquantitative index of corpus callosum injury in each patient. The correlations between MSIR and the duration of unconsciousness, Glasgow outcome scale at six months, and the presence of apparent midbrain injury were investigated.
Results: The mean (SD) MSIR value was 1.12 (0.18) at 7.4 (3.1) days after the injury (n = 21). MSIR correlated strongly with the duration of unconsciousness (n = 19, R2 = 0.74, p < 0.0001), and was higher in patients with both an unfavourable GOS outcome (p = 0.020) and apparent midbrain injury (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: MSIR, which is a simple and objective procedure for semiquantitative analysis of corpus callosum damage in diffuse axonal injury, correlated with clinical severity. A high MSIR value may indicate the presence of concomitant midbrain injury.