On the history of lacunes, Etat criblé, and the white matter lesions of vascular dementia
The history of lesions associated with vascular dementia (17th to 19th century) is reviewed. Recognition of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke types dates back to the 17th century; however, at that time a third type ('cerebral congestion') emerged as the most common form of apoplexy. This entity vanished as arterial hypertension became established with the introduction of the sphygmomanometer (1905). Before the 19th century, apoplexy was considered a uniformly fatal disease, although Willis first recognized post-stroke dementia in 1672. Dechambre (1838) first reported 'lacunes' in stroke survivors with small cerebral softenings. Durand-Fardel (1842) described interstitial atrophy of the brain (leukoaraiosis) and état criblé (cribriform state) reflecting chronic cerebral congestion. In 1894, Alzheimer and Binswanger identified 'arteriosclerotic brain atrophy,' a form of vascular dementia characterized by 'miliary apoplexies' (lacunes). Also in 1894, Binswanger described the disease that now bears his name. In 1901, Pierre Marie coined the name état lacunaire (lacunar state) for the clinical syndrome of elderly patients with multiple lacunes.