Periventricular Leukomalacia

Also known as: PVL.

What is periventricular leukomalacia?

Periventricular leukomalacia is a brain disorder occurring in babies (particularly premature babies) characterized by brain damage with softening (malacia) and death of the inner part of the brain (white matter).

What causes periventricular leukomalacia?

The exact cause of PVL is unknown but appears to result from too little blood/oxygen getting to that part of the brain. Very premature babies (born at 30 weeks or less of gestation) are more likely to get periventricular leukomalacia; as are those who have had a hemorrhage inside the brain, or whose mothers membranes (amniotic sac) have ruptured early or where there has been infection in the uterus.

What are the symptoms of periventricular leukomalacia?

Symptoms in infants vary widely. Mild cases may have no symptoms, others may only present with symptoms months after birth. The most common symptom is cerebral palsy which results in stiff, tight muscles particularly in the legs, movement, developmental and learning difficulties. Other symptoms may include vision and hearing loss, trouble with coordination and other impairments.

What are periventricular leukomalacia care options?

While there is no specific treatment for periventricular leukomalacia, disease management is focused on providing specialized care which might include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, vision treatments and other specialized therapies as required.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: November 18, 2021 04:13 PM

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