Periventricular Leukomalacia

Benjamin C. Warf, MD, director of Neonatal and Congenital Anomaly Neurosurgery at Boston Children's Hospital

At Boston Children’s Hospital, our specialists have already helped many infants diagnosed with periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), a type of brain injury most common in very premature babies. 

Here are the basics of PVL:

  • PVL is injury to the white matter around the fluid-filled ventricles of the brain. White matter transmits information between nerve cells, the spinal cord and from one part of brain to the other
  • PVL is common in very premature, low birth weight babies. It is the second most common complication involving the central nervous system in premature infants.
  • PVL can cause damage to the nerve pathways that control motor movements, resulting in muscles that are tight, spastic or resistant to movement, in addition to being weak.
  • There is no treatment for PVL and the prognosis varies depending on the severity of the damage to the brain.

How Boston Children’s approaches PVL:

Clinicians in Boston Children’s Fetal Neonatal Neurology Program provide early and accurate diagnosis of PVL and other brain injuries acquired by newborns and young infants. We follow newborns who’ve been seen in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICUs) at Boston Children’s as well as other hospitals. After your baby has been discharged from the NICU, we continue to monitor his neurological progress to provide treatments that will help his long-term development.


Periventricular leukomalacia: Reviewed by Benjamin C. Warf, MD
© Boston Children’s Hospital; posted in 2012