Association between subcortical vascular disease on CT and neuropathological findings

Roberta Rossi, Catherine Joachim, Cristina Geroldi, Marc Combrinck, Margaret M. Esiri, A. David Smith, Giovanni B. Frisoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Small vessel cerebrovascular disease (svCVD) causes cognitive impairment and predicts poorer outcomes in elderly persons. The demonstration of svCVD by structural imaging such as computed tomography (CT) is central to the clinical diagnosis but its accuracy is uncertain. Objective. The aim of this study was to assess the validity of CT to detect pathologically verified svCVD. Methods. Leukoaraiosis, patchy lesions, and lacunes were assessed separately in different cerebral regions on CT scans of 87 elderly persons with Mini-Mental State Examination scores between 0 and 30 enrolled in the OPTIMA project. We rated small vessel disease on pathology separately in the white matter and basal ganglia as absent/mild, moderate, and severe. The presence of microinfarcts was also noted. Results. The severity of all types of CT lesions was associated with pathological findings. Subjects with absent/mild leukoaraiosis on CT decreased and those with severe leukoaraiosis increased with increasing severity of subcortical small vessel ratings on pathology (31, 18 and 0%; 17, 23 and 50%, respectively; p = 0.028). A similar association was present for patchy lesions (73, 59 and 17%; 7, 18 and 33%, respectively; p = 0.004) and lacune (83, 77 and 50%; 0, 4 and 17%, respectively; p = 0.023). Leukoaraiosis, patchy lesions, and lacunes on CT were associated also with microinfarcts on pathology (p <0.05). Conclusion. The standardized assessment of svCVD on CT films at the time of the diagnosis correlates with small vessel disease on pathology at death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-695
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004


  • Computed tomography
  • Small vessel disease
  • Subcortical vascular disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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