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Logo of jnnpsycJournal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and PsychiatryVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2003 March; 74(3): 326–332.
PMCID: PMC1738337

A study of persistent post-concussion symptoms in mild head trauma using positron emission tomography


Background: Complaints of persistent cognitive deficits following mild head trauma are often uncorroborated by structural brain imaging and neuropsychological examination.

Objective: To investigate, using positron emission tomography (PET), the in vivo changes in regional cerebral uptake of 2-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose (FDG) and regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in patients with persistent symptoms following mild head trauma.

Methods: Five patients with mild head trauma and five age and education matched healthy controls were imaged using FDG-PET to measure differences in resting regional cerebral glucose metabolism. Oxygen-15 labelled water (H215O)-PET was also used to measure group differences in rCBF changes during a spatial working memory task. In addition, neuropsychological testing and self report of dysexecutive function and post-concussion symptoms were acquired to characterise the sample.

Results: There was no difference between patients and controls in normalised regional cerebral FDG uptake in the resting state in frontal and temporal regions selected a priori. However, during the spatial working memory task, patients had a smaller increase in rCBF than controls in the right prefrontal cortex.

Conclusions: Persistent post-concussive symptoms may not be associated with resting state hypometabolism. A cognitive challenge may be necessary to detect cerebral changes associated with mild head trauma.

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