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AP: Army uses SPECT scans for head injuries

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | May 24, 2011
Soldiers who receive head injuries in war zones might undergo single-photon emission computerized tomography scans to look for subtle evidence of brain damage, according to an Associated Press report, released Tuesday.

Traumatic brain injuries have become a horrifically common problem for U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to NPR, it's estimated that 10 to 20 percent of all soldiers in Iraq have suffered this type of injury. Known as the "signature injury" of the current wars, severe TBI carries with it increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder, epilepsy, headaches and short-term memory and vision problems.

But according to the AP, Army doctors at Fort Campbell in Kentucky are hoping to use SPECT scans to detect injuries that might be missed by other modalities. The AP cites the chief radiologist at the post who says the scans can show reduced blood flow to the brain. This can help doctors detect injuries that might be missed by CT scans.
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Although SPECT brain perfusion studies are used to study dementia, they're only starting to be used by the military to look for brain injuries in soldiers, the AP said. Fort Campbell is one of only two military installations using the scans to study head injuries, the AP said.

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