, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 313-319

Localised proton MR spectroscopy of brain metabolism changes in vegetative patients

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We examined 14 vegetative brain-injured patients with proton magnetic resonance single-volume spectroscopy (1H MRS) at 1.5 T to establish whether there were changes in relative concentrations of N -acetyl aspartate (NAA), choline (Cho) and creatine (CR) metabolites from those found in healthy brains. Spectra were obtained from two different (2 × 2 × 2 cm) volumes of interest in the left and in the right frontal cortex, normal on MRI. All spectra revealed abnormalities compared with normal spectra obtained from age-matched control subjects. Values outside the normal range for at least one of the metabolite ratios were observed in all patients. Cho/Cr was markedly higher and NAA/Cho and NAA/Cr were markedly lower than in the control subjects. At different times six patients regained awareness and the ability to obey commands, and four were re-examined; changes in metabolite ratios were observed, which were different in individual patients. The NAA/Cho ratio reaches statistical significance in discriminating between the patients with a poor outcome (death or prolonged vegetative state) and those who regained awareness; the dividing line appears to be at a value of about 1.6.

Received: 10 January 1996 Accepted: 17 June 1996