Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are highly heterogeneous and often present with overlapping symptomology, providing challenges in reliable classification and treatment. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) may be advantageous in the diagnostic separation of these disorders when comorbid or clinically indistinct. For this study, two groups of subjects were analyzed: Group 1 with TBI (n=104), PTSD (n=104) or both (n=73) closely matched for demographics and comorbidity, compared to each other and healthy controls (N=116); Group 2 with TBI (n=7,505), PTSD (n=1,077) or both (n=1,017) compared to n=11,147 without either.
For Group 1, baseline and on-task ROIs and VRs showed a high level of accuracy in differentiating PTSD, TBI and PTSD+TBI conditions. This carefully matched group separated with 100% sensitivity, specificity and accuracy for the ROI analysis and at 89% or above for VRs. Group 2 had lower sensitivity, specificity and accuracy, but still in a clinically relevant range. Compared to subjects with TBI, PTSD showed increases in the limbic regions, cingulum, basal ganglia, insula, thalamus, prefrontal cortex and temporal lobes. This study demonstrates the ability to separate PTSD and TBI from healthy controls, from each other, and detect their co-occurrence, even in highly comorbid samples, using SPECT. This modality may offer a clinical option for aiding diagnosis and treatment of these conditions.