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NINDS Periventricular Leukomalacia Information Page


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What is Periventricular Leukomalacia?

Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is characterized by the death of the white matter of the brain due to softening of the brain tissue. It can affect fetuses or newborns; premature babies are at the greatest risk of the disorder. PVL is caused by a lack of oxygen or blood flow to the periventricular area of the brain, which results in the death or loss of brain tissue. The periventricular area-the area around the spaces in the brain called ventricles-contains nerve fibers that carry messages from the brain to the body's muscles. Although babies with PVL generally have no outward signs or symptoms of the disorder, they are at risk for motor disorders, delayed mental development, coordination problems, and vision and hearing impairments. PVL may be accompanied by a hemorrhage or bleeding in the periventricular-intraventricular area (the area around and inside the ventricles), and can lead to cerebral palsy. The disorder is diagnosed by ultrasound of the head.

Is there any treatment?

There is no specific treatment for PVL. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive. Children with PVL should receive regular medical screenings to determine appropriate interventions.

What is the prognosis?

The prognosis for individuals with PVL depends upon the severity of the brain damage. Some children exhibit fairly mild symptoms, while others have significant deficits and disabilities.

What research is being done?

The NINDS supports and conducts research on brain injuries such as PVL. Much of this research is aimed at finding ways to prevent and treat these disorders.

NIH Patient Recruitment for Periventricular Leukomalacia Clinical Trials

Organizations

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National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
55 Kenosia Avenue
Danbury, CT   06810
orphan@rarediseases.org
http://www.rarediseases.org
Tel: 203-744-0100 Voice Mail 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-798-2291

 
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Prepared by:
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National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
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NINDS health-related material is provided for information purposes only and does not necessarily represent endorsement by or an official position of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke or any other Federal agency. Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient's medical history.

All NINDS-prepared information is in the public domain and may be freely copied. Credit to the NINDS or the NIH is appreciated.

Last updated November 13, 2014