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Periventricular leukomalacia

Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is characterized by the death of the brain's white matter due to softening of the brain tissue. The disorder is caused by a lack of oxygen or blood flow to the periventricular area of the brain. The periventricular area is the area around the ventricles (fluid-filled cavities/spaces in the brain) where nerve fibers carry messages from the brain to the body's muscles.

Periventricular leukomalacia can affect fetuses or newborns, although premature babies are at greatest risk. Babies with periventricular leukomalacia generally have no outward signs or symptoms of the disorder, but they are at risk for:

  • Motor disorders
  • Delayed cognitive development
  • Coordination problems
  • Vision and hearing impairments

Periventricular leukomalacia may be accompanied by a hemorrhage or bleeding in the periventricular-intraventricular area and can lead to cerebral palsy. The disorder is diagnosed with an ultrasound of the head.

There is no specific treatment for periventricular leukomalacia. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive. Children with periventricular leukomalacia should receive regular medical screenings to determine appropriate interventions. The outlook for individuals with periventricular leukomalacia depends upon the severity of the brain damage. Some children exhibit fairly mild symptoms, while others experience significant disabilities.

How can I or my loved one help improve care for people with periventricular leukomalacia?

Consider participating in a clinical trial so clinicians and scientists can learn more about periventricular leukomalacia. Clinical research uses human volunteers to help researchers learn more about a disorder and perhaps find better ways to safely detect, treat, or prevent disease.

All types of volunteers are needed—those who are healthy or may have an illness or disease—of all different ages, sexes, races, and ethnicities to ensure that study results apply to as many people as possible, and that treatments will be safe and effective for everyone who will use them.

For information about participating in clinical research visit NIH Clinical Research Trials and You. Learn about clinical trials currently looking for people with periventricular leukomalacia at

Where can I find more information about periventricular leukomalacia?

Information may be available from the following resource:


Content source: Accessed June 29, 2023.

The information in this document is for general educational purposes only. It is not intended to substitute for personalized professional advice. Although the information was obtained from sources believed to be reliable, MedLink, its representatives, and the providers of the information do not guarantee its accuracy and disclaim responsibility for adverse consequences resulting from its use. For further information, consult a physician and the organization referred to herein.

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