Periventricular Leukomalacia

Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) is a kind of brain injury that has an effect on infants. It is marked by the death of small sections of brain tissue surrounding areas called ventricles that are filled with fluid. The injury produces “holes” in the brain. While “leuko” alludes to the white matter within the brain, “periventricular” alludes to the space surrounding the ventricles. PVL occurs more frequently in premature infants than in full-term infants.

Causes of PVL
It is believed that variations in the flow of blood to the space surrounding the ventricles of the brain are a significant cause of the condition. This area is weak, and susceptible to injury, particularly prior to 32 weeks of gestation.

Another potential cause of PVL is infection at around the time at which the baby is delivered. The risk for contracting PVL rises as the more premature the baby is, and the more ill the baby becomes. In addition, premature babies who suffer from intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) are at a heightened risk for developing this injury.

Diagnosis and treatment
Among the tests used to diagnose PVL are ultrasound and MRI of the head. While PVL cannot be treated, the heart, lung, intestine and kidney functions of premature babies are closely watched and treated in the newborn intensive care unit (NICU) in an effort to lower the risk of getting PVL.