Today, there is more available information about traumatic brain injuries than ever before. There are now studies relating to how contact sports (such as football) lead to traumatic brain injuries. The world is starting to recognize the issue on a broader scale.
Still, treatment is a mystery to some. A significant blow to the head or a twist of the neck is terrifying. Typically, the injury is not severe. There are cases, however, where a simple concussion is only the beginning. Some patients suffer from internal bleeding of the brain or a crack in the skull. In such cases, a CT scan is used to determine the extent of the damage.
Understanding a CT Scan
Often, a CT (computerized tomography) scan is necessary. A scan is designed to show the doctor if there is swelling or bleeding in the brain, or potentially a fracture to the skull. If there are signs of severe head trauma, a CT scan is the first test ordered to diagnose the condition. Your doctor will closely examine the scanned image for signs of a developing disorder or trauma.
First, most doctors will examine other symptoms, such as:
- Weakness along one side of the face or body
- Difficulty speaking, hearing, and swallowing
- Reduced vision
- One dilated pupil
- Fluid or blood leaking from the ear or nose
- Tenderness around the skull
According to reports, if you do not display any of the above-mentioned symptoms after an injury to the head, your risk of complications is around 1 in 7000. A CT scan is unlikely to help in such a case.
Traumatic Brain Injury Diagnosis
While a CT scan is typically used to diagnose a traumatic brain injury, there are other methods often used. There is no single test that can definitively confirm a TBI. However, your doctor can assess the history of the injury, symptoms displayed, perform a physical examination, and schedule additional tests (including neuroradiology) to confirm the diagnosis.
Typically, TBI patients experience a loss of consciousness when enduring such a traumatic injury. This loss of consciousness ranges from a few seconds to a few minutes. In the most severe traumatic brain injury cases, the loss of consciousness can result in days spent in a coma. Even worse, some never leave a coma after their injury. Furthermore, most TBI patients experience some form of amnesia, whether minor or long-lasting.
So, when is the CT scan used in the diagnosis phase? A CT scan is used in conjunction with other diagnostic methods. Typically, a CT scan, which is fast and accurate, is used to diagnose acute head trauma that requires emergency treatment, such as surgery, to prevent life-threatening conditions. It starts with a visual diagnosis more than anything else, though.