What is the role of diffuse axonal injury (DAI) in traumatic brain injury (TBI)?

Updated: Feb 01, 2018
  • Author: Percival H Pangilinan, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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Answer

Answer

Diffuse axonal injury (DAI) is one of the most common and important pathologic features of TBI. It constitutes mostly microscopic damage, and it is often not visible on imaging studies. The main mechanical force that causes DAI is rotational acceleration of the brain, resulting in unrestricted head movement. Rotational acceleration produces shearing and tensile forces, and axons can be pulled apart at the microscopic level. Microscopic evaluation of the brain tissue often shows numerous swollen and disconnected axons. Rapid stretching of axons is thought to damage the axonal cytoskeleton and, therefore, disrupt normal neuron function. [20]


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