A Systematic Review of ASL Perfusion MRI in Mild TBI

Yang Wang, Hannah M. Bartels, Lindsay D. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) is a major public health concern. Cerebrovascular alterations play a significant role in the evolution of injury sequelae and in the process of post-traumatic brain repair. Arterial spin labeling (ASL) is an advanced perfusion magnetic resonance imaging technique that permits noninvasive quantification of cerebral blood flow (CBF). This is the first systematic review of ASL research findings in patients with mTBI. Our approach followed the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) and PRISMA guidelines. We searched Ovid/MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus, and the Cochrane Index for relevant articles published as of February 20, 2020. Full-text results were combined into Rayyan software for further evaluation. Data extraction, including risk of bias ratings, was performed using American Academy of Neurology’s four-tiered classification scheme. Twenty-three articles met inclusion criteria comprising data on up to 566 mTBI patients and 654 control subjects. Of the 23 studies, 18 reported some type of regional CBF abnormality in mTBI patients at rest or during a cognitive task, with more findings of decreased than increased CBF. The evidence supports the conclusion that mTBI likely causes ASL-derived CBF anomalies. However, synthesis of findings was challenging due to substantial methodological variations across studies and few studies with low risk of bias. Thus, larger-scale prospective cohort studies are needed to more definitively chart the course of CBF changes in humans after mTBI and to understand how individual difference factors contribute to post-injury CBF changes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalNeuropsychology Review
StateAccepted/In press - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Arterial spin labeling
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Concussion
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Mild traumatic brain injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology

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