Leukoaraiosis, also referred as ischemic demyelination, is a radiological term given to a bilateral and either patchy or diffuse pattern of brain white matter hypodensity on CT or hyperintensity on T2 MRI that are probably related to chronic small vessel disease 1,3-4. It is commonly observed on brain CT scans of elderly people, and it is a finding related to vascular dementia


It results from arteriosclerotic changes in the deep penetrating vessels supplying the deep white matter and periventricular regions that lack collateral supply. Lacunar infarcts in the basal ganglia occur due to the same reason. Histology from these lesions show atrophy of axons and decreased myelin.

Pathogenesis and, especially, its clinical significance are still incompletely understood 3,5.

History and etymology

The term comes from the Greek (leuko = white and araios = rarefaction) and was first proposed by Vladimir Hachinski, a Ukrainian-born Canadian neurologist 6.

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Article information

rID: 16200
Tags: stub, cases
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • deep white matter ischaemia
  • microangiopathic leukoencephalopathy
  • age-related demyelination
  • small vessel ischemic changes
  • Ischemic demyelination

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