Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is characterized by the death of the white matter of the brain. This is 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. This results in the death or loss of brain tissue. The periventricular area is the area around the spaces in the brain called ventricles. It contains nerve fibers that carry messages from the brain to the body's muscles.
Babies with PVL generally have no outward signs or symptoms of the disorder. But they are at risk for:
Delayed mental development.
Vision and hearing impairments.
PVL may be accompanied by a hemorrhage or bleeding in the periventricular-intraventricular area. That is the area around and inside the ventricles. This can lead to cerebral palsy.
The disorder is diagnosed by ultrasound of the head.
There is no specific treatment for PVL. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive. Children with PVL should receive regular medical screenings to determine appropriate interventions.