A recent study has indicated that MRI in children with persistent symptoms after concussion rarely identified brain injury.

Led by Robert Bonow, MD, and a team of researchers from University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital, the study reviewed more than 5 years of records of pediatric patients treated for sports concussion, the most common form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) among children, to determine if magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) revealed structural changes to the brain that may be related to persistent symptoms.1

Structural injury is uncommon in sports concussion in children, although nearly 13% of the children in the study underwent MRI. Whereas in adults, concussion symptoms tend to resolve within several days, post-concussive effects such as headaches, irritability, and cognitive difficulties may persist for a month or more in about 25-30% of children.

“From the journal’s perspective, this is an important communication,” says John T. Povlishock, PhD, editor-in-chief of Journal of Neurotrauma and professor at Medical College of Virginia Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. “It provides important guidance for those clinicians caring for children with persistent symptoms of concussion. The large sample size and the rigor of the retrospective analyses strongly support the validity of the study’s finding that only a small fraction of these children present with routine MRI-detectable intracranial lesions. While not endorsing a prescriptive approach, this report does provide important insight for those clinicians considering conventional MRI in children with persistent concussive symptoms.”


1. Bonow RH., Friedman SD, Perez FA., et al. Prevalence of abnormal magnetic resonance imaging findings in children with persistent symptoms after pediatric sports-related concussion. J. Neurotrauma. Published online before print, 19 July 2017; doi: 10.1089/neu.2017.4970.