What Is Periventricular Leukomalacia?
Periventricular leukomalacia, or PVL, is a type of brain injury found primarily in premature babies and involves damage to the brain tissue around the fluid-filled areas called ventricles (periventricular area). That area, known as white matter, contains nerves that carry messages from the brain to the muscles of the body. For those affected by PVL, the area of damaged brain tissue can affect the nerve cells that control motor function.
What Causes Periventricular Leukomalacia?
One of the primary causes of PVL is a lack of oxygen or blood flow to the baby’s brain while it is still developing. This area of the brain is susceptible to injury, particularly in premature infants whose brain tissue is especially fragile. Infections in the uterus and early rupture of membranes may contribute to the development of PVL.
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What are the Symptoms of Periventricular Leukomalacia?
Newborns may not show symptoms of PVL during the first few months of life. While each baby may experience symptoms differently, the most common PVL symptom is spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, which manifests as tight or stiff muscles, usually in the legs.
How is Periventricular Leukomalacia Diagnosed?
In addition to a physical examination, doctors may perform the following diagnostic tests:
Cranial ultrasound: a painless test that uses sound waves to view the baby’s brain through the soft openings on top of the head between the skull bones (fontanelles). This test looks for cysts or hollow areas within the brain tissue.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): this test uses a magnetic field and radio to produce a detailed picture of the brain without exposing the infant to x-rays. This test looks for changes to the brain tissue.
What Should I Do If My Child Receives a Periventricular Leukomalacia Diagnosis?
If you believe your child is affected by periventricular leukomalacia (PVL) as a result of medical negligence, call us to discuss your potential legal options, if any. During a free consultation, we can answer your legal questions and determine how we may be able to help.