Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is a form of brain damage that affects the white matter of brain, resulting in the cells in the white matter of brain either decaying or dying. In turn, an area of the brain is left empty, resulting in fluid build-up. It’s estimated that around 60-100% of all children who have PVL will also develop cerebral palsy. In most cases, spastic diplegia is the most typical type of CP that develops due to PVL. Although uncommon, quadriplegia CP may also develop.
Causes of Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)
Cell damage to the brain’s periventricular tissue as well as a decrease in blood flow are the two primary reasons that PVL occurs. In addition, babies born prematurely, especially before 32 weeks gestation, have a heightened risk of PVL. Unfortunately, premature infants are also at the highest risk of death should they develop PVL. A host of other conditions can cause Periventricular leukomalacia including:
- Having twins
- Umbilical cord inflammation
- Antepartum haemorrhage
- Problems with the placental blood vessel
- Sepsis and other illnesses in which bacteria enters the bloodstream
- Lack of oxygen to the periventricular area of the infant’s brain
Unfortunately, Periventricular leukomalacia is extremely difficult to detect, especially in newborns and infants less than 6 months of age. Since PVL mimics so many other medical conditions and most infants show no outward signs of impairment, it may take months or even years before a formal diagnosis is made. However, there are certain signs and symptoms to look out for, including:
If Periventricular leukomalacia is suspected, your child may need to undergo a series of development assessments in order to get an accurate diagnosis, as well as a cranial ultrasound, which is usually reserved until the infant is at least over 6 months of age, as performing an ultrasound too early may not detect PVL. Treatment will then depend upon the severity of the disorder, but typically includes a series of therapy plans, including physical, massage, and speech. If vision is impaired, your physician may recommend corrective vision treatment.
Outlook for Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) patients
Prognosis greatly depends upon the severity of the disease. While some children will have relatively minor problems, others may have severe disabilities and deficits for life. The best course of action is to ensure you and your physician find and carry out the best treatment plan for your child’s situation.