Study evaluates brain lesions of older patients

Jul 09, 2007

Lesions commonly seen on MRI in the brains of older patients may be a sign of potentially more extensive injury to the brain tissue, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, NC.

According to the study, hyperintense lesions are a common finding on neuroimaging and are associated with aging, medical illness and some invasive medical procedures. “These hyperintensities are seen in most everyone as we age, although they can be more severe in some than others, said Warren Taylor, MD, lead author of the study. “We feel they're important as greater severity of these lesions is associated with a number of conditions including dementia and memory problems, depression, risk of falls, incontinence, and even higher mortality,” he said.

The study consisted of 82 patients age 60 and older who were not depressed and had no history of neurologic illness. Each patient underwent a brain MRI with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). The volume of white matter lesions and gray matter lesions was measured, and fractional anisotropy was measured in the white matter of frontal regions, the internal capsule, and corpus callosum. In general, increased lesion volumes were associated with lower fractional anisotropy (FA) values; a measure of both the direction and the intensity of water diffusion and is used as a surrogate marker for tissue integrity.

“What we found in the study is that these lesions may just be the visible sign of more widespread disease in the brain. That is, in people with more severe lesions, even brain areas that appear normal on MRI may also be affected, particularly brain areas involved in reasoning,” said Dr. Taylor. “One theory we've used is that lesion location may distinguish why some people with a lot of these lesions seen on MRI may get depressed or develop memory problems, while others don't have these problems and do fine. The development of depression or dementia may be because a lesion occurred in areas of the brain that help control mood or memory,” he said.

Source: American Roentgen Ray Society

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Is it Alzheimer's? Maybe not

Mar 03, 2011

Alicia Harper spent years as a missionary, working in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, but she faced her greatest challenge six years ago when, at age 69, her mind and body began to falter.

Migraines and headaches present no risk to cognitive function

Jan 19, 2011

Recent work, in particular the CAMERA study, has used MRI to study the brains of migraine sufferers and has shown that a higher proportion of these patients exhibit lesions of the brain microvessels than the rest of the population.

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.