Periventricular leukomalacia

Alternative Names

PVL; Brain injury – infants

Definition of Periventricular leukomalacia

Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is a type of brain injury that affects infants. The condition involves the death of small areas of brain tissue around fluid-filled areas called ventricles. The damage creates “holes” in the brain. “Leuko” refers to the brain’s white matter and “peri” refers to the ventricles.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

PVL is much more common in premature infants than in full-term infants.

Signs and tests

Tests used to diagnose PVL include an ultrasound and MRI of the head.

Treatment

There is no treatment for PVL. The baby’s heart, lung, intestine, and kidney functions will be monitored and treated so they remain as normal as possible.

Expectations (prognosis)

PVL is frequently associated with neurological and developmental problems in growing babies, usually during the first to second year of life. It may lead to cerebral palsy (CP), especially spasticity (tightness, or increased muscle tone) in the legs.

Review

Kimberly G Lee, MD, MSc, IBCLC, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 12/17/2009

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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