Two hundred very low birthweight infants were prospectively scanned to ascertain the incidence of periventricular leucomalacia (PVL) and haemorrhage. Before collection of data, clear definitions of ultrasound abnormalities believed to represent PVL and intraventricular haemorrhage were described. These referred to small and moderate intraventricular haemorrhage, paenchymal haemorrhage, and PVL, including prolonged flare (echoes in the periventricular region lasting for two weeks or more and not becoming cystic). Sixty nine infants (34%) had no abnormality on ultrasound scans. Intraventricular haemorrhage occurred in 107 babies (37 grade I and 62 grade II), and only eight infants were thought to have true parenchymal haemorrhage. Ultrasound appearances of PVL were seen in 27 infants, 19 of whom developed cysts and eight died in the precystic stage. Prolonged flare occurred in another 25 babies. Unilateral parenchymal haemorrhage occurred in four infants who subsequently developed cystic PVL in the contralateral hemisphere. Twenty one infants developed ventricular dilatation, 12 of whom had associated parenchymal lesions. Haemorrhage, PVL, and flare occurred commonly in infants of 30 weeks' gestation and below and became markedly less common in more mature infants. We believe prolonged flare represents a form of PVL, and in this study a total of 52 (26%) infants had an ultrasound appearance of periventricular leucomalacia, an incidence considerably higher than previously reported.
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