Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society


Neuropsychological results and neuropathological findings at autopsy in a case of mild traumatic brain injury

ERIN D.  BIGLER  a1 c1
a1 Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, LDS Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah and Department of Psychiatry and Radiology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah

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Autopsy studies were undertaken in a 47-year-old college-educated male patient who, 7 months prior to an unexpected death, had sustained a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) as manifested by brief loss of consciousness and an initial Glasgow Coma Scale score of 14. The patient died from cardiac arrest secondary to an undiagnosed and unknown arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease as assessed by the coroner's office at the time of autopsy. Gross inspection of the brain at autopsy was normal; however, microscopic analysis demonstrated what were considered trauma findings of hemosiderin-laden macrophages in the perivascular space and macrophages in the white matter, particularly the section taken from the frontal lobe. The patient had partially returned to work at the time of death, but had encountered problems with diminished cognitive performance in his work as an appraiser. Neuropsychological studies were generally within normal limits although several tests of either speed of processing or short-term memory showed lower than expected performance. This case demonstrates the presence of subtle neuropathological changes in the brain of a patient who sustained a mild TBI and was still symptomatic for the residual effects of the injury 7 months post injury when he unexpectedly died. (JINS, 2004, 10, 794–806.)

(Received May 22 2003)
(Revised March 17 2004)
(Accepted March 26 2004)

Key Words: Mild traumatic brain injury; Neuropathology; Neuroimaging.

c1 Reprint requests to: Erin D. Bigler, Ph.D., Departments of Psychology and Neuroscience, 1001 SWKT, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602. E-mail: