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Alzheimer's Disease

Small vessel ischemic gliotic white matter?

08/04/2010

Question:

Does this diagnosis mean dementia? Thank you

Answer:

Small vessel ischemic white matter disease usually refers to abnormalities seen on imaging of the brain (typically an MRI scan). It indicates low flow or small strokes due to narrowing (stenosis) of small brain blood vessels. Depending on how severe the damage is, it may cause balance problems or cognitive impairments (memory or thinking problems). Gliotic refers to gliosis or an increase in glia cells usually due to the death of neurons (brain cells). This is hard to determine on imaging alone and would need a brain biopsy and a microscope to see. None of these terms means dementia (trouble thinking and functioning). Most people with this finding do not have dementia unless the condition is severe.

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Response by:

Douglas W Scharre, MD Douglas W Scharre, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University