A systematic review of cross-sectional differences and longitudinal changes to the morphometry of the brain following paediatric traumatic brain injury

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Paediatric traumatic brain injury (pTBI) is a leading cause of disability for children and young adults. Children are a uniquely vulnerable group with the disease process that occurs following a pTBI interacting with the trajectory of normal brain development. Quantitative MRI post-injury has suggested a long-term, neurodegenerative effect of TBI on the morphometry of the brain, in both adult and childhood TBI. Changes to the brain beyond that of anticipated, age-dependant differences may allow us to estimate the state of the brain post-injury and produce clinically relevant predictions for long-term outcome. The current review synthesises the existing literature to assess whether, following pTBI, the morphology of the brain exhibits either i) longitudinal change and/or ii) differences compared to healthy controls and outcomes. The current literature suggests that morphometric differences from controls are apparent cross-sectionally at both acute and late-chronic timepoints post-injury, thus suggesting a non-transient effect of injury. Developmental trajectories of morphometry are altered in TBI groups compared to patients, and it is unlikely that typical maturation overcomes damage post-injury, or even ‘catches up’ with that of typically-developing peers. However, there is limited evidence for diverted developmental trajectories being associated with cognitive impairment post-injury. The current review also highlights the apparent challenges to the existing literature and potential methods by which these can be addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101844
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Early online date30 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


Bibliographical note

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Funding: This work was supported by a European Research Council (ERC) - Consolidator Grant (ERC-CoG) to AW [grant number 682734].


  • Brain development
  • Morphometry
  • Paediatric
  • TBI
  • Traumatic brain injury

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