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mombicky Community member Posts: 5 Courageous
Hi. My son has just been diagnosed with PVL. I have been told that PVL could be classed as cerebral palsy, so have assumed this is the case. Have I made the right assumption?!?


  • Debbie_Alumni
    Debbie_Alumni Community member Posts: 932 Pioneering

    Hello mombicky,

    Thanks for your question. There are increased risks of a child with PVL developing Cerebral Palsy. The following information is from the Scope website and I hope this is helpful and provides you with some guidance. If you have any questions please let me know and I'll be happy to help.

    What is periventricular leukomalacia (PVL)?

    Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) is damage and softening of the white matter within the brain near the cerebral ventricles.

    • Periventricular means around or near ventricles
    • Leuko means white
    • Malacia means softening

    The ventricles within the brain are C-shaped spaces which produce cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). PVL is characterised by damage to the white matter (brain tissue consisting of myleinated axons (nerves) surrounding the ventricles.

    How does PVL relate to cerebral palsy?

    Like any damage to brain tissue, the exact location and depth of impairment will depend on how and where the body is affected. The areas around the ventricles near the basal ganglia and cerebellum contain nerves affecting movement. Babies with PVL may therefore have a greater risk of developing cerebral palsy.

    What causes PVL?

    It's hard to say. This area of the brain can be very susceptible to damage especially in premature or low birth weight babies where the tissue is very fragile. Possible causes can be lack of oxygen, ischemia (decreased blood flow), infection or rupturing of the uterus. Also hypotension (low blood pressure) resulting from foetal distress or caesarean birth can lead to decreased blood and oxygen supply to the developing brain and damage to the blood brain barrier which provides nutrients to the brain.

    How is PVL diagnosed? 

    As PVL may lead to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, this may not be apparent until the child is older. The most common symptom is spastic diplegia (tight muscles in both limbs), contracted legs or difficulties in positioning when sleeping or feeding.

    Severe PVL may be associated with quadriplegia. Children with PVL may have seizures. A study in Israel of 541 patients showed that 18.7% of those experienced seizures.

    Seizures are more common in those born prematurely and with low birth weight. Infants with PVL often can't maintain a steady gaze or co-ordinate eye movements. They may have spontaneous rapid eye movements (nystagmus) or a squint (strabismus).

    Your medical practitioner may conduct a cranial ultrasound or MRI scan to detect any injury to brain tissue. The prognosis of patients with PVL depends on the severity and extent of white matter damage.

    What treatments are available for PVL?

    Currently there are no specific treatments for PVL. Treatments such as physiotherapy can ease specific effects.

    PVL and cerebral palsy

    Infants with PVL may ultimately receive a diagnosis of cerebral palsy (reports vary between 20% - 60%; this range is wide due to the variability of cerebral palsy). Another common outcome of PVL can be epilepsy but this may be due more to genetic and early environmental factors.

    Best wishes


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