Binswanger’s disease

Created 18/02/2022, last revision 21/04/2023

  • Binswanger’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder characterized by ischemic involvement of the white matter and deep brain structures (basal ganglia and thalamus)
  • usually can be seen in individuals over 50 years of age and is caused by small vessel disease and branch artery atherosclerosis
    • typically in individuals with long term and poorly corrected hypertension and other vascular risk factors
  • clinically characterized by a progressive motor impairment and vascular cognitive deficit (VCI)
  • synonyms used in the literature:
    • Binswanger’s encephalopathy
    • subcortical leukoencephalopathy
    • multi-infarct or vascular dementia of the Binswanger type
    • subcortical ischemic vascular disease
    • subcortical arteriosclerotic encephalopathy (SAE)
    • small vessel dementia


  • arteriolopathy, atherosclerosis, thromboembolism
    • mostly small penetrating artery disease
  • lesions are relatively symmetrical and diffuse – deep periventricular white matter lesions + lacunar infarcts in basal ganglia, thalamus, and brainstem (pons)

Clinical presentation

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Diagnostic evaluation

Imaging methods

  • CT:  symmetrical hypodensities in deep white matter + lacunar infarcts + atrophy
  • MRI (FLAIR, T2): extensive periventricular and subcortical white matter lesions + subcortical lacunar infarcts + atrophy
    • lesions are more pronounced on MRI compared to CT
    • scales to assess the extent of the white matter lesions on MRI:
Binswanger's disease

Binswanger´s disease (FLAIR, coronary plane)

Extensive leukoencephalopathy in Binswanger´s disease (FLAIR)
Binswanger´s disease (CT and FLAIR)

Differential diagnosis

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Prevention of cerebrovascular disease

Symptomatic therapy

  • symptomatic psychiatric therapy
    • antidepressants
    • anxiolytic drugs
    • hypnotic drugs
  • cognitive enhancers – cholinergic deficiency is assumed in VaD (vascular dementia)
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Binswanger's disease