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July 2000

Leukoaraiosis: Reifying Rarefaction

Arch Neurol. 2000;57(7):925-926. doi:10.1001/archneur.57.7.925

MEDICAL TERMS sometimes acquire a life of their own. The term leukoaraiosis (LA) was coined to avoid presumptions about etiology and neuropathology of a radiological phenomenon—white matter rarefaction found first on computed tomographic scans and later more profusely on magnetic resonance images.1 It was to be a

neutral term, exact enough to define white matter changes in the elderly or the demented, general enough that it serves as a description and a label, and demanding enough that it calls for a precise clinical and imaging description accompanied when possible by pathologic confirmation.1

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