J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 63:749-753 doi:10.1136/jnnp.63.6.749
  • Paper

Neuropathological assessment of the lesions of significance in vascular dementia

  1. M M Esiria,
  2. G K Wilcockb,
  3. J H Morrisa
  1. aDepartment of Neuropathology, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford OX2 6HE, UK, bDepartment for Care of the Elderly, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, UK
  1. Professor MM Esiri, Department of Neuropathology, Radcliffe Infirmary, Woodstock Road, Oxford OX2 6HE, UK.
  • Received 4 March 1997
  • Revised 28 July 1997
  • Accepted 31 July 1997


OBJECTIVES To better define the neuropathology of vascular dementia.

METHODS The neuropathological findings in 18 elderly, undemented subjects free of cerebrovascular disease were compared with 19 elderly undemented subjects who had cerebrovascular disease (many of whom had had a “stroke”) and 24 elderly demented subjects who had cerebrovascular disease, but no other pathology to account for dementia. Cases in all groups were selected for absence or no more than very mild Alzheimer type pathology.

RESULTS Microvascular brain damage in the form of severe cribriform change and associated subcortical white matter damage and microinfarction were correlated with a history of dementia. Severe cribriform change was much more common and microinfarction somewhat more common in the demented group with vascular disease than the undemented group with vascular disease (P=0.0006 and P=0.031 respectively). Other findings of note were that congophilic angiopathy had a greater prevalence in the vascular dementia group than the control group, single cerebral infarcts were more common in the group who were undemented with vascular disease than in the group with dementia and vascular disease (P=0.0028), and the last group lacked evidence of macroscopic infarction more often than the first (P=0.034). There was a non-significant trend for the ratio of infarcted:uninfarcted tissue in one cerebral hemisphere to be higher in the group with dementia and vascular disease than in the group with vascular disease but no dementia.

CONCLUSIONS Microvascular disease, not macroscopic infarction, was the chief substrate of vascular dementia in this series of cases.


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