In a recent article on BrainInjuryNews.com, author Bruce H. Stern discussed the use of Diffusion Tensor Imaging or DTI in recent court cases. In his article, Stern discusses how a Massachusetts court recently found this advanced neuro-imaging technique to be a “reliable diagnostic tool in the diagnosis of a traumatic brain injury”. I agree that Diffusion Tensor Imaging is useful since it is more highly sensitive than an MRI. The case he describes, Craffey v. Embree Construction Group, is a case in which the trial judge rejected the defendant’s motion to strike plaintiff’s expert, and to bar his testimony regarding his explanation of diffusion tensor imaging. In denying the motion of the defendant, the trial court found that DTI is a “well-established and reliable tool to identify conditions in the brain.”
This is an important decision in moving towards establishing the reliability of some of the new neuro imaging tests that have become available in recent years. Diffusion tensor imaging can visualize the brain’s white matter, which contains the fibers that connect nerve cells. It is much more sensitive than conventional MRI, as it looks for microstructural changes. Therefore it can pick up DIA (diffuse axonal injury) which is injury to the nerve cells that often results from Mild Traumatic Brian Injury (MTBI). Given that 75% to 85% of brain injuries are classified as “mild” these new tests promise to bring documentation and visualization of MTBI that was previously “invisible”.