What causes white lesions on the brain: White Matter Lesions – StatPearls
White Matter Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Written by Kelli Miller
- What Causes It?
- What Are the Symptoms?
- How Is It Diagnosed?
- How Is It Treated?
- Can It Be Prevented?
White matter disease is the wearing away of tissue in the largest and deepest part of your brain that has a number of causes, including aging. This tissue contains millions of nerve fibers, or axons, that connect other parts of the brain and spinal cord and signal your nerves to talk to one another. A fatty material called myelin protects the fibers and gives white matter its color.
This type of brain tissue helps you think fast, walk straight, and keeps you from falling. When it becomes diseased, the myelin breaks down. The signals that help you do these things can’t get through. Your body stops working like it should, much like a kink in a garden hose makes the water that comes out go awry.
White matter disease happens in older or elderly people. There are ways to prevent or even reverse this condition, but you need to start now.
Many different diseases, injuries, and toxins can cause changes in your white matter. Doctors point to the same blood vessel problems that lead to heart trouble or strokes:
- Long-term high blood pressure
- Ongoing blood vessel inflammation
It may be worse for women. You may also be more likely to get it if you have:
- High cholesterol
- Parkinson’s disease
- History of stroke
Genetics may also play a role.
White matter helps you problem-solve and focus. It also plays an important role in mood, walking, and balance. So when something’s wrong with it, you might notice:
- Trouble learning or remembering new things
- A hard time with problem solving
- Slowed thinking
- Leaking urine
- Problems walking
- Balance issues and more falls
White matter disease is different from Alzheimer’s, which affects the brain’s gray matter. If you’re having memory problems or a loved one is, a doctor will need to run tests to make a diagnosis.
Advances in medical imaging have made white matter disease easier to spot. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test, which takes pictures of the inside of your brain, can show any damage. Changes to white matter will show up super-bright white (your doctor may call this “hyperintense”) on an MRI scan. You may need more tests to rule out other causes.
There isn’t a specific treatment. The goal is to treat the cause of the damage and stop the disease from getting worse. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol. If you smoke, you should quit.
Age-related white matter disease is progressive, meaning it can get worse. But you can take steps to stop it from spreading. Scientists think you might even be able to repair the damage, if you catch it early.
Keep your blood pressure and blood sugar in check. That can lead to white matter changes. To keep your heart healthy, follow a low-fat, low-salt diet, and get about 2 and a half hours of moderate-intensity exercise each week. Manage diabetes if you have it and keep your cholesterol in check. If you smoke, stop now.
Brain Lesions: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments
Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors
- What Are Brain Lesions?
- What Causes Brain Lesions?
- What Are the Symptoms of a Brain Lesion?
- What Are the Different Types of Brain Lesions?
- How Are Brain Lesions Diagnosed?
- How Are Brain Lesions Treated?
- How Can I Find Out More About Brain Lesions?
When you scrape your elbow, it leaves an area of inflamed skin, or a lesion. But what are lesions in the brain? And what causes them? How serious are brain lesions and how are they treated? Here is information about this confusing and unsettling health concern.
A lesion is an area of tissue that has been damaged through injury or disease. So a brain lesion is an area of injury or disease within the brain. While the definition sounds simple, understanding brain lesions can be complicated. That’s because there are many types of brain lesions. They can range from small to large, from few to many, from relatively harmless to life threatening.
Brain lesions can be caused by injury, infection, exposure to certain chemicals, problems with the immune system, and more. Typically, their cause is unknown.
Symptoms of a brain lesion vary depending on the type, location, and size of the lesion. Symptoms common to several types of brain lesions include the following:
- Neck pain or stiffness
- Nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite
- Vision changes or eye pain
- Changes in mood, personality, behavior, mental ability, and concentration
- Memory loss or confusion
- Difficulty moving
Although they share a common definition — injury or damage to tissue within the brain — brain lesions vary greatly. Here are some common brain lesions.
Abscesses: Brain abscesses are areas of infection, including pus and inflamed tissue. They are not common, but they are life threatening. Brain abscesses often occur after an infection, usually in a nearby area, such as an ear, sinus, or dental infection. They can also appear after injury or surgery to the skull. Read more about the causes of abscesses.
Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs): An AVM is a type of brain lesion that occurs during early development. Arteries and veins in the brain grow in a tangle and become connected by tube-like structures called fistulae. The arteries are not as strong as normal arteries. The veins are often enlarge because of the constant flow of blood directly from the arteries through the fistulae to the veins. These fragile vessels may rupture, leaking blood into the brain. In addition, the brain tissue may not receive enough blood to function properly. Damage to the brain may cause seizures as the first symptoms of an AVM.
Cerebral infarction: Infarction refers to death of tissue. A cerebral infarction, or stroke, is a brain lesion in which a cluster of brain cells die when they don’t get enough blood. Recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke.
Cerebral palsy: This type of brain lesion occurs when a baby is still in the mother’s womb, or during delivery. Cerebral palsy does not progress over time. The brain lesions affect the child’s ability to move, which can also make communication and related skills difficult. However, many children with cerebral palsy have normal intellectual functioning. Read more on the symptoms and types of cerebral palsy.
Multiple sclerosis (MS): With this condition, the immune system attacks and damages the nerve linings (myelin) in the brain and spinal cord. These lesions make it difficult for messages to be sent and received properly between the brain and the rest of the body. Learn more about the symptoms of MS.
Tumors: Tumors are clumps of cells that grow abnormally from normal tissue. Some tumors in the brain are noncancerous, or benign. Others are cancerous. They may start in the brain, or they may spread from elsewhere in the body (metastatic). They may grow quickly or they may remain stable. Get more information on signs and symptoms of a brain tumor.
The methods used to find and diagnose brain lesions depend on the symptoms. In many cases, CT and MRI imaging studies help pinpoint the location, size, and characteristics of the lesions. Blood and other lab tests may also be done to look for signs of infection.
Treatment depends on the type of brain lesion. The goals of treatment may be to provide a cure, relieve symptoms, or improve the quality or length of life. Common approaches for treating brain lesions include the following:
- “Wait and see;” if the lesion is not causing problems and is not growing, you may only need periodic checkups.
- Surgical removal of the lesion, if possible; new surgical techniques may make it possible to remove even hard-to-reach lesions.
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for lesions that are cancerous
- Medication to fight infections, such as antibiotics or other antimicrobial drugs
- Medication to calm the immune system or otherwise change the immune system’s response
- Medication or other therapies to relieve symptoms associated with the brain lesion
Brain lesions take many forms, so diagnosing and treating them can be complex. That’s why it’s important to discuss individual questions about brain lesions with your doctor. Together, you can determine the best way to proceed in identifying, treating, and living with brain lesions.
Reasons for the appearance of spots on MRI images of the brain
MRI examination is a highly informative and painless diagnostic method that allows you to “look” without damaging the skin in any department of the human body of interest. An MRI of the brain can be used to make a final diagnosis and choose the most effective method of treatment.
You can find out more about how the examination is carried out and MRI prices by clicking on the link.
What is an MRI?
MRI is based on a physical phenomenon – magnetic resonance. Its essence lies in the ability of hydrogen atoms that are present in the human body to change their energy potential under the influence of a magnetic field. An MRI machine can be thought of as a big magnet. It creates a powerful field over the area under study and sends out radio frequency pulses that cause hydrogen atoms to resonate.
In different tissues, the amount of hydrogen is different, including those that are covered by pathological processes, so the information from them will differ from healthy organs. Atomic resonance data are read by special sensors and then processed by a computer program that reconstructs the image in the form of slices.
The device provides three-dimensional images in three projections and makes many slices, the thickness of which is set by the doctor on an individual basis, more often it is 2-4 mm. Due to such a large number of sections, the smallest changes can be detected.
What does an MRI image look like?
During the examination, an image is obtained, which is a black sheet, where cerebral structures are displayed in several planes. Images are represented by darkened and brightened zones. Thanks to this contrast, the doctor can see all the details that are caused by the sequence of radio frequency pulses.
During the study, the device produces a series of images, each of them is a layered tissue section, where the following are displayed in detail:
- white matter;
- lobes and furrows;
- vascular structures.
MRI can detect almost any intracranial pathology, such as congenital malformations, tumors, epilepsy, demyelinating processes, sella turcica and others.
The evaluation of the results is carried out using a special protocol that includes several stages. The data obtained are compared with the indicators of the norm. If a pathological focus is detected, the doctor indicates its localization, distribution area, shape, color, specific characteristics. The contours of a healthy brain have the correct shape, clear furrows that delimit the hemispheres into lobes.
MR signal changes can be caused by:
- tumor transformation;
- vischemia fabrics;
- degenerative processes;
- purulent fusion and others.
If there are no pathological processes, all structures remain morphologically and anatomically intact – they do not have focal and diffuse changes. In case of detection of cerebral abnormalities, contrast may be required to increase the information content of MRI. If the scan results do not reveal any abnormalities, no other studies are needed.
White spots on MRI images
The predominant color on the images is gray. The appearance of white and dark spots can be both a manifestation of the norm and pathology. Whites may indicate the presence of:
- benign and malignant tumors;
- intracerebral hematoma;
- blood clot;
- multiple sclerosis;
- encephalopathy and other pathologies.
Focal changes can be both single and multiple, large, small and diffuse.
Black spots on MRI images
The appearance of a spot of saturated black color may indicate the loss of a signal from structures where there are no hydrogen atoms. This is due to the fact that the work of any magnetic resonance imaging scanner is tuned to hydrogen atoms, which are very numerous in the body. If the tissue does not contain it, then the loss of the MR signal is observed, which is manifested by pronounced hypointensity.
That is, a black spot can normally be observed from air, which is contained, for example, in the paranasal sinuses, the outer cortical plate of the bones of the cranial vault and its base. But air can also be a manifestation of pathology, if there is pneumocephalus, abscesses, wound channel. An exact decoding can only be given by a specialist, on his own, without a thorough knowledge of physiological and pathological anatomy, it will not work to understand the image.
MRI of the brain in the center “DonMed”
Diagnostic center “DonMed” offers a full range of functional and laboratory diagnostics. The clinic’s specialists perform magnetic resonance imaging of the brain using a high-resolution Philips Achieva 1.5T device. It is versatile and provides high-quality visualization to reveal the smallest pathological foci.
After deciphering the MRI data, the patient can get a medical consultation to determine further tactics of action, draw up a treatment plan. In the clinic “DonMed” you can pass urgent tests, undergo ultrasound, ECG and other types of studies, complex diagnostics.
Diagnostics is carried out by appointment. To get a detailed consultation, sign up for a convenient time for you, call the specified phone number or fill out an application for feedback.
You can find out the prices for MRI by clicking on the link.
The staff of the medical center consists of experienced, competent doctors who constantly improve their skills and know everything about innovative diagnostic methods. We value the health of our patients and approach treatment with the utmost responsibility and attention. Due to advanced expert-class equipment, diagnostics is highly effective and safe.
As a useful bonus, a 5% discount is provided for patients who belong to a social group. You can get acquainted with the conditions of the promotions here .
What do white spots on an MRI mean?
Magnetic resonance imaging helps to obtain clear images of the examined area. Their careful study is aimed at making a diagnosis or refuting it, adjusting the treatment method, and providing the patient with a complete set of recommendations that could significantly improve his condition.
But sometimes white spots stand out in the picture. What do they mean and how dangerous? We will answer these questions later in the article.
Why do white spots appear on MRI and what do they mean
Statistics show that most often such a phenomenon as white spots is fixed on the basis of studying the state of the patient’s brain and spine. At the same time, the client who performed the MRI should not try to understand the cause of this effect – you need to consult a doctor. Only he can understand whether such a phenomenon is dangerous.
The general reasons for the formation of white areas are related to the peculiarities of their reaction to the formation of magnetic resonance.
Features of white spots on a brain image
The appearance of a white spot on an MRI image of the brain does not always mean something bad. Sometimes there is a possibility that there is nothing terrible or dangerous for your body in this. There are several causes of white areas:
- Fluid accumulation. Usually, CSF is fixed in white, which accumulates in the subarachnoid space or in the cerebral ventricles. This is normal – every person has liquor.
- Tumor. There are many types of tumors that manifest themselves in this way. To understand the features of the neoplasm, to establish its malignancy or benignity, it is worth using an additional MRI with contrast enhancement.
- Thrombus. It creates a white spot and is especially dangerous because it can cause cerebral hemorrhage and death.
- Injury. A white spot may indicate that a hematoma occurs in a patient as a result of an injury.
There are many other pathological processes, which are indicated by the formation of a white spot on an MRI of the brain. These include such dangerous ones as leukoaraiosis and abscess.
Features of white spots on the spine
White spots are also characteristic of the spine. They can form in different places, including the bone marrow and vertebrae.