Helpline 0808 800 3333 or contact us
For disability information call free
0808 800 3333 or contact us
0808 800 3333
Anything else? Other ways to contact us
Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is damage and softening of the white matter within the brain near the cerebral ventricles.
The ventricles within the brain are C-shaped spaces which produce cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). PVL is characterised by damage to the white matter (brain tissue consisting of myelinated axons (nerves) surrounding the ventricles.
Like any damage to brain tissue, the exact location and depth of impairment will depend on how and where the body is affected. The areas around the ventricles near the basal ganglia and cerebellum contain nerves affecting movement. Babies with PVL may therefore have a greater risk of developing cerebral palsy.
It's hard to say. This area of the brain can be very susceptible to damage especially in premature or low birth weight babies where the tissue is very fragile. Possible causes can be lack of oxygen, ischemia (decreased blood flow), infection or rupturing of the uterus. Also hypotension (low blood pressure) resulting from foetal distress or caesarean birth can lead to decreased blood and oxygen supply to the developing brain and damage to the blood brain barrier which provides nutrients to the brain.
As PVL may lead to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, this may not be apparent until the child is older. The most common symptom is spastic diplegia (tight muscles in both limbs), contracted legs or difficulties in positioning when sleeping or feeding.
Severe PVL may be associated with quadriplegia. Children with PVL may have seizures. A study in Israel of 541 patients showed that 18.7% of those experienced seizures.
Seizures are more common in those born prematurely and with low birth weight. Infants with PVL often can't maintain a steady gaze or co-ordinate eye movements. They may have spontaneous rapid eye movements (nystagmus) or a squint (strabismus).
Your medical practitioner may conduct a cranial ultrasound or MRI scan to detect any injury to brain tissue. The prognosis of patients with PVL depends on the severity and extent of white matter damage.
Currently there are no specific treatments for PVL. Treatments such as physiotherapy can ease specific effects.
Infants with severe PVL may be more likely to receive a diagnosis of cerebral palsy as the severity of PVL is shown to be linked to major neurodevelopmental impairments. Another outcome of PVL can be epilepsy but this may be linked more to mild or moderate PVL or to genetic and early environmental factors.
Get advice and tips, or share your experiences
Hi. My son has just been diagnosed with PVL. I have been told that PVL could be classed as cerebral palsy, so have assumed this is the case.
I have very mild cerebral palsy due to complications at birth. My parents never spoke about it growing up and so I learnt to hide it very well.
Hi my son has recently been diagnosed with cerebral palsy (spastic quadraplegia). It's been a tough couple of weeks since the diagnosis.
Find out how @Scope is helping people to feel more confident about disability. Help us #EndTheAwkward http://bit.ly/2egoZQx