What does brain leukoencephalopathy mean

Leukoencephalopathy of the brain is characterized by the development of disorders of the white matter of the brain. This disease is initially described as vascular dementia. Most often, this ailment occurs in people in old age.

What is brain leukoencephalopathy? This is a progressive disease, usually chronic. Over time, pathological changes are accompanied by the appearance of dementia.

Complete destruction of nerve cells occurs due to disturbances in the processes of oxygen supply and blood supply. These factors contribute to the development of microangiopathy, which is fraught with a change in the density of white matter. A similar condition indicates that there are disturbances in the blood circulation processes in the body.

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Types of Leukoencephalopathy

The disease can occur in several varieties. In accordance with the form of the pathological process, treatment is prescribed.

Small focal (vascular origin)

With vascular leukoencephalopathy of the brain, a slow lesion of the cerebral hemispheres occurs, which is accompanied by the appearance of clinical symptoms. This form of the disease occurs against the background of hypertension, accompanied by jumps in blood pressure.

Men at the age of 55 are included in the risk group. Basically, the disease occurs in those people whose relatives also faced similar disorders. Pathological changes on the part of white matter over time leads to senile dementia.

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Progressive vascular leukoencephalopathy occurs against the background of the following reasons:

  • Atherosclerosis. The presence of lipid plaques is a serious obstacle to the movement of blood in the area of ​​the cerebral arteries.
  • Diabetes. It contributes to the thickening of the blood and, accordingly, to the difficulty of its movement.
  • Pathology of the spinal column. It occurs due to trauma or congenital factors and is the reason for the insufficient supply of the brain with nutrients and oxygen.

What is small focal leukoencephalopathy of vascular origin? These are the consequences of being overweight, alcohol abuse and smoking, eating disorders and lack of physical activity. The presence of risk factors requires the prevention of the development of pathological disorders even before the symptoms of the disease appear.

Multifocal (progressive)

This form of brain damage is a viral lesion of the nervous system. This process is accompanied by a pronounced liquefaction of white matter. The main causes of deviations are a decrease in immunity. Multifocal leukoencephalopathy is aggressive in nature and can lead to death.

What is periventricular leukoencephalopathy? This is the development of cognitive impairment, which can range from severe dementia to mild dysfunctions. With a focal form of the disease, neurological symptoms are observed. This is fraught with the development of speech and vision disorders.

Most often, this form of the disease occurs in patients with acquired or congenital immunodeficiency. The risk group includes people who have AIDS or HIV.

Periventricular (focal)

It is characterized by damage to the subcortical structure in the brain. It occurs due to chronic ischemia and hypoxia. It develops in the cerebellum and brain stem.

What is periventricular leukoencephalopathy? This is a defeat of the motor nuclei in the medulla oblongata. It develops rapidly and is accompanied by severe impaired motor activity.

Symptoms of Leukoencephalopathy

Most often, the development of leukoencephalopathy is accompanied by a gradual increase in the clinical picture. Among the primary manifestations can be distinguished distraction, awkwardness and apathy. A person becomes clumsy and tearful. As a rule, there is a decrease in mental performance. Sleep is gradually disturbed, irritability and muscle hypertonicity occur.

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The development of the clinical picture:

  • Impaired coordination of movements and unsteady gait, the appearance of severe weakness in the limbs;
  • Possible unilateral paralysis of the lower or upper extremities;
  • There is a violation of speech and visual functions;
  • Scotomas and hypesthesia appear;
  • Intelligence decreases and confusion appears;
  • There is a slight degree of dementia and hemianopsia;
  • The patient suffers from dysphagia, urinary incontinence and epiprotalus.

Focal neurological symptoms progress rather quickly. The patient may have pseudobulbar and parkinsonian syndrome. When viewed in almost all cases, failures from the intellectual-mnestic functions are noted.

The patient suffers from postural instability. Disorders from the psyche are combined with constant anxiety, nausea, headaches and numbness of the limbs.

In almost all cases, patients do not perceive that they need help, so relatives usually bring them to a doctor.

Establishing diagnosis

With the development of multifocal progressive leukoencephalopathy, a vascular and periventicular form of the disease, a comprehensive diagnosis is required, which includes the following procedures:

  • Consultation and visual examination at the appointment with a neurologist;
  • Fence tests: blood, determination of the level of narcotic substances and alcohol;
  • Dopplerography, MRI, CT, EEG;
  • PCR, brain biopsy, and lumbar puncture.

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Tatyana Jakowenko

Editor-in-chief of the Detonic online magazine, cardiologist Yakovenko-Plahotnaya Tatyana. Author of more than 950 scientific articles, including in foreign medical journals. He has been working as a cardiologist in a clinical hospital for over 12 years. He owns modern methods of diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases and implements them in his professional activities. For example, it uses methods of resuscitation of the heart, decoding of ECG, functional tests, cyclic ergometry and knows echocardiography very well.

For 10 years, she has been an active participant in numerous medical symposia and workshops for doctors - families, therapists and cardiologists. He has many publications on a healthy lifestyle, diagnosis and treatment of heart and vascular diseases.

He regularly monitors new publications of European and American cardiology journals, writes scientific articles, prepares reports at scientific conferences and participates in European cardiology congresses.