White matter specific gravity was measured using the microgravimetric method in 20 comatose patients with diffuse head injury who were undergoing intracranial pressure (ICP) monitoring, and in 19 patients with focal injuries who were undergoing evacuation of contusions or intracerebral hematomas. Computerized tomography (CT) density readings were obtained for each site of white matter sampling by locating the sampling site on the preoperative CT scan. A significant correlation was found between the specific gravity values and the CT density numbers (r = 0.775; p < 0.001). Patients with focal injuries demonstrated reduced perifocal specific gravity, suggesting brain edema. The mean specific gravity in patients with diffuse injury was within the normal range. In 10 of 12 patients in whom the specific gravity was above the normal range, the CT density was also above the normal range. These data suggest that cerebral vascular engorgement is the cause of the high specific gravity. Six (60%) of this small subgroup of 10 patients also demonstrated a high ICP.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology