Advanced techniques for brain imaging could help clinicians make a more accurate diagnosis in determining whether military veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or mild traumatic brain injury (TBI).
A diagnosis is currently difficult to make as structural neuroimaging, a common imaging technique, does not detect either disorder. However, technology under development, which uses hybrid imaging with positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) in the pituitary region of the brain may change this, according to Thomas M. Malone, BA, of the Department of Neurosurgery at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri.
While mild TBI is the result of physical damage to the brain, PTSD is considered a mental health condition. However, more than 40% of veterans that return from a conflict that have mild TBI and loss of consciousness also have PTSD.
A review of 159 brain PET/CT scans found that uptake of the radiopharmaceutical FDG in the pituitary gland was much higher in those with both mild TBI and PTSD than the TBI-alone group, Malone reported at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting.
The higher FDG uptake in the PTSD group may confirm a theory that some veterans really have hypopituitarism, a condition in which the pituitary gland does not produce normal amounts of one or more of its hormones.
“If that’s the case, then we might be able to help those patients by screening for hormone irregularities and treating those irregularities on an individual basis,” Malone said, according to Psych Central.
New research suggests advanced brain imaging techniques can help to differentiate military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from those with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI).
Currently, it is difficult for clinicians to make a definitive diagnosis as symptoms for PTSD and MTBI are similar, and the conditions are unable to be detected by normal structural neuroimaging.
Emerging technology using hybrid imaging with positron emission tomography and computed tomography (PET/CT) in the pituitary region of the brain suggests a new method to distinguish the two conditions.
The findings also lend support to the theory that many veterans diagnosed with PTSD may actually have hormonal irregularities due to pituitary gland damage from blast injury.