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Leukoaraiosis is a term for changes in the cerebral white matter that can be detected with high frequency by CT and MRI in aged individuals. It is a descriptive term for rarefaction of the white matter. It is also commonly referred to as white matter hyperintensities (WMH) due to its bright white appearance on T2 MRI scans. Underlying vascular mechanisms are suspected. Hypertension, tobacco smoking, diabetes, and heart disease are all risk factors for leukoaraiosis. This white matter pathology is inconsistently associated with cognitive impairment, motor dysfunction, and gait disturbances. Slowed cognitive speed of processing and frontal executive abilities are also common. It may indicate a poorer prognosis and increased risk of stroke and brain hemorrhage.


  • See [1]
  • Pantoni L, Garcia JH. The significance of cerebral white matter abnormalities 100 years after Binswanger's report: a review. Stroke. 1995;26:1293–1301
  • New Clinical Relevance of Leukoaraiosis : For the European Task Force on Age-Related White Matter Changes1; Leonardo Pantoni, MD; Domenico Inzitari, MD Department of Neurological and Psychiatric Sciences, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
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