New research published in the journal, Annals of Neurology, suggests that MRIs may actually be better at detecting mild traumatic brain injuries. Until now, CT scans were thought to be the “gold standard” when it came to detecting brain injuries and have been the preferred technique for diagnosing and evaluating these types of injuries in the emergency room. Yet a recent clinical trial led by researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) found that CT scans may actually be better at detecting focal lesions on the brain, which are signs of microscopic bleeding.

This finding is significant because focal lesions actually help doctor determine whether the patient is likely to suffer from persistent neurological problems. Currently about 15% of individuals with mild traumatic brain injuries experience some form of long-term neurological complications. These findings suggest that obtaining an MRI following an accident or injury could alert physicians to potential problems that a CT scan would’ve otherwise missed.

Even Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries Can Have Long-Term Effects

Every year approximately 1.7 million Americans acquire a head injury of some kind and 75% of these injuries are considered mild traumatic brain injuries. While mild traumatic brain injuries have milder symptoms, such as vomiting, loss of consciousness, and confusion, they can have long-term neurological consequences. Even more frightening is that the incidents of mild traumatic brain injuries is projected to be much higher—up to 6x higher—because many individuals with a mild traumatic brain injury or concussion never seek medical attention. Of those individuals who see medical help for their concussions, 1 in 6 ends up with some type of persistent and sometimes permanent disability.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately for Your Injuries

After a minor accident, many accident victims mistakenly believe that they are uninjured and unharmed. This is unfortunately not usually the case and the extent of a traumatic brain injury can sometimes take days and even weeks to be fully recognized. During this time accident victims often reach quick settlements with their insurance companies—only to find that they have long-term medical needs that are now not covered.

Before you speak with anyone from an insurance company, it is important to seek medical attention immediately for your injuries. If you believe that you have hit your head, physicians should perform a CT scan, as well as a MRI to rule out the possibility of a traumatic brain injury.