Worldwide elderly traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients tend to become an increasing burden to the society. Thus, a faster and less expensive way of evaluating TBI victims is needed. In the present study we investigated if optical coherence tomography (OCT) could be used as such a method. By using an animal model, we established if OCT can detect cortical changes in the acute phase of a penetrating TBI, in young (5-7 months) and old (20-22 months) rats. Due to the long-term evolution of TBI’s, we wanted to investigate to what extent OCT could detect changes within the cortex in the chronic phase. Adult (7-12 months) male rats were used. Surprisingly, OCT imaging of the normal hemisphere was able to discriminate age-related differences in the mean gray values (MGV) of recorded pixels (p = .032). Furthermore, in the acute phase of TBI, OCT images recorded at 24 hr after the injury showed differences between the apparent damaged area of young and aged animals. Changes of MGV and skewness were only recorded 48 hr after injury. Monitoring the chronical evolution of the TBI with OCT revealed changes over time exceeding the normal range recorded for MGV, skewness and kurtosis, 14 and 21 days after TBI. Although in the present study we still used an extremely invasive approach, as technology improves, less invasive and non-harmful ways of recording OCT may allow for an objective way to detect changes within the brain structure after brain injuries.
© 2020 The Authors. Microscopy Research and Technique published by Wiley Periodicals LLC.