Sixty seven of 216 infants weighing less than 2 kg at birth had cerebral lesions on ultrasonic scanning. Eight of 17 who had periventricular leukomalacia, with or without subependymal or intraventricular haemorrhage, or both, died. These and one larger baby were the subject of a combined ultrasound, and where appropriate, necropsy study. There was excellent correlation between the ultrasound and necropsy findings, only some of the earlier lesions of periventricular leukomalacia being missed by ultrasound. The data suggest it is now possible to distinguish periventricular leukomalacia and subependymal/intraventricular haemorrhage by ultrasound, that both lesions may be present in the same brain, that apparent parenchymal extension of an intraventricular haemorrhage is more probably the result of haemorrhage into ischaemic periventricular tissue, and that the term 'periventricular haemorrhage' should be abandoned since it confuses two lesions of differing aetiology and differing clinical importance. Future advances in neonatal brain ultrasound depend on accurate assessment of both the nature and site of lesions within the cerebral hemispheres and ventricular system since the interpretation of these parameters is of critical importance.
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