Leukoaraiosis, a radiographic marker of cerebral small vessel disease detected on T2-weighted brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as white matter hyperintensity (WMH), is a key contributor to the risk and severity of acute cerebral ischemia. Prior investigations have emphasized the pathophysiology of WMH development and progression; however, more recently, an association between WMH burden and functional outcomes after stroke has emerged. There is growing evidence that WMH represents macroscopic injury to the white matter and that the extent of WMH burden on MRI influences functional recovery in multiple domains following acute ischemic stroke (AIS). In this review, we discuss the current understanding of WMH pathogenesis and its impact on AIS and functional recovery.
Keywords: Ischemic stroke; Leukoaraiosis; Stroke recovery.