Defining ischemic burden after traumatic brain injury using 15O PET imaging of cerebral physiology.


Whereas postmortem ischemic damage is common in head injury, antemortem demonstration of ischemia has proven to be elusive. Although 15O positron emission tomography may be useful in this area, the technique has traditionally analyzed data within regions of interest (ROIs) to improve statistical accuracy. In head injury, such techniques are limited because of the lack of a priori knowledge regarding the location of ischemia, coexistence of hyperaemia, and difficulty in defining ischemic cerebral blood flow (CBF) and cerebral oxygen metabolism (CMRO2) levels. We report a novel method for defining disease pathophysiology following head injury. Voxel-based approaches are used to define the distribution of oxygen extraction fraction (OEF) across the entire brain; the standard deviation of this distribution provides a measure of the variability of OEF. These data are also used to integrate voxels above a threshold OEF value to produce an ROI based upon coherent physiology rather than spatial contiguity (the ischemic brain volume; IBV). However, such approaches may suffer from poor statistical accuracy, particularly in regions with low blood flow. The magnitude of these errors has been assessed in modeling experiments using the Hoffman brain phantom and modified control datasets. We conclude that this technique is a valid and useful tool for quantifying ischemic burden after traumatic brain injury.