The concept of sporadic cerebral small vessel disease: A road map on key definitions and current concepts

Int J Stroke. 2016 Jan;11(1):6-18. doi: 10.1177/1747493015607485.


Sporadic cerebral small vessel disease is considered to be among the most common known neuropathological processes and has an important role in stroke, cognitive impairment, and functional loss in elderly persons. The term is now commonly used to describe a range of neuroimaging, neuropathological, and associated clinical features, the pathogenesis of which is largely unclear but that are thought to arise from disease affecting the perforating cerebral arterioles, capillaries, and venules. Modern neuroimaging has revolutionized our understanding of the consequences of small vessels disease on the brain parenchyma, even though small arteries, arterioles, capillaries, and venules are difficult to be directly visualized with current techniques used in clinical practice. In this short review, we focus on histopathological and neuroimaging perspectives, basic definitions, and recent advances in the field.

Keywords: Cerebral microbleeds; antithrombotics; cerebral amyloid angiopathy; cerebral small vessel disease; intracerebral hemorrhage; leukoaraiosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / pathology*
  • Cerebral Small Vessel Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Neuroimaging / methods
  • Neuroimaging / standards