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Stroke

Changes in the white matter area

09/19/2007

Question:

I was wondering if you could clarify your response please. Are changes in the white matter area the same as small strokes in the white matter area? You are correct with the hypertension but she was told this condition she has will affect her motor skills and that she will end up in a wheelchair but she would retain her mental faculties. Her MD used the word will not possibly and offered her no options except the aspirin which is why she is so confused. Myself, I find it strange she wasn`t referred to a Neurologist. Thank you for your info.

Answer:

The white matter changes on CT scan or MRI scan are non specific findings. Yes, they can represent small strokes especially in hypertensive patients but can also represent other disease disorders. How severe the white matter changes is also important. A referral to a neurologist can determine the nature of the white matter changes (Small strokes or other disease disorder). The white matter changes are an extremely common finding in the MRI scan. Even migraine headache can cause these changes so, a referral to Neurologist is important to determine the nature of these very common white matter changes. The white matter changes will not necessarily lead to motor or cognitive deficits. Hope this clarification will help.

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Response by:

Yousef  Mohammad, MD, MSc Yousef Mohammad, MD, MSc
Assistant Professor
Director, Stroke Fellowship Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University