Leukoencephalopathy in normal and pathologic aging: 1. CT of brain lucencies Academic Article uri icon


MeSH Major

  • Aging
  • Alzheimer Disease
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Central white matter lucencies are commonly seen in CT scans of elderly patients. Reports in the literature have implicated demyelination due to subcortical vascular disease (Binswanger disease) as the cause of these lucencies. Binswanger disease, however, is thought to be rare. Because of this apparent discrepancy we decided to determine the incidence and to attempt to define the clinical significance of the CT white-matter changes in a study population at New York University Medical Center. The studies of 275 normal and demented subjects, ages 23 to 85 years, were reviewed. All subjects received neurologic, psychiatric, and medical evaluation, formal psychometric evaluation of their cognitive status, and a CT scan. CT scans were evaluated for the presence and severity of white-matter changes (leukoencephalopathy). The incidence and severity of white-matter changes increased significantly with age (p less than 0.01). Leukoencephalopathy was consistently more common in demented patients than in normal subjects, but the difference was not statistically significant, and the severity of the leukoencephalopathy was not related to the severity of dementia (p less than 0.05). Five patients (ages 74 to 95 years) with a clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer disease who had CT evidence of lucencies were examined at autopsy. Neuropathology demonstrated extensive changes of Alzheimer disease in one brain and mild-to-moderate changes in the other four brains; areas of white-matter rarefaction were present in all brains, with microscopic evidence of arteriolar hyalinization. This study demonstrates that leukoencephalopathy is strongly related to the aging process and is seen in both "normal" and cognitively impaired individuals who have no other evidence of vascular disease.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

publication date

  • September 10, 1986



  • Academic Article



  • eng

PubMed ID

  • 3088933

Additional Document Info

start page

  • 561

end page

  • 6


  • 7


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