Dilation of the superior sagittal sinus detected in rat model of mild traumatic brain injury using 1 T magnetic resonance imaging

Jennie M. Burns, Benjamin T. Kalinosky, Mark A. Sloan, Cesario Z. Cerna, David A. Fines, Christopher M. Valdez, William B. Voorhees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a common injury that can lead to temporary and, in some cases, life-long disability. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is widely used to diagnose and study brain injuries and diseases, yet mTBI remains notoriously difficult to detect in structural MRI. mTBI is thought to be caused by microstructural or physiological changes in the function of the brain that cannot be adequately captured in structural imaging of the gray and white matter. However, structural MRIs may be useful in detecting significant changes in the cerebral vascular system (e.g., the blood-brain barrier (BBB), major blood vessels, and sinuses) and the ventricular system, and these changes may even be detectable in images taken by low magnetic field strength MRI scanners (<1.5T). Methods: In this study, we induced a model of mTBI in the anesthetized rat animal model using a commonly used linear acceleration drop-weight technique. Using a 1T MRI scanner, the brain of the rat was imaged, without and with contrast, before and after mTBI on post-injury days 1, 2, 7, and 14 (i.e., P1, P2, P7, and P14). Results: Voxel-based analyses of MRIs showed time-dependent, statistically significant T2-weighted signal hypointensities in the superior sagittal sinus (SSS) and hyperintensities of the gadolinium-enhanced T1-weighted signal in the superior subarachnoid space (SA) and blood vessels near the dorsal third ventricle. These results showed a widening, or vasodilation, of the SSS on P1 and of the SA on P1–2 on the dorsal surface of the cortex near the site of the drop-weight impact. The results also showed vasodilation of vasculature near the dorsal third ventricle and basal forebrain on P1–7. Discussion: Vasodilation of the SSS and SA near the site of impact could be explained by the direct mechanical injury resulting in local changes in tissue function, oxygenation, inflammation, and blood flow dynamics. Our results agreed with literature and show that the 1T MRI scanner performs at a level comparable to higher field strength scanners for this type of research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1045695
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • MRI
  • TBI
  • brain
  • low field
  • rat
  • vasculature
  • vasodilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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