Sulcal, ventricular, and white matter changes at MR imaging in the aging brain: data from the cardiovascular health study

Radiology. 1997 Jan;202(1):33-9. doi: 10.1148/radiology.202.1.8988189.


Purpose: To determine the distribution of changes in sulcal size, ventricular size, and white matter signal intensity depicted on cranial magnetic resonance (MR) images, with stratification according to age, race, and sex.

Materials and methods: Ventricular size, sulcal size, and white matter signal intensity changes were graded on cranial MR images of 3,660 community-living, elderly participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study. A healthier subgroup was also defined. Summary statistics for both groups were generated for age, race, and sex.

Results: Regression models of the entire imaged cohort showed higher grades of all variables with increasing age, and higher ventricular and sulcal grades in men and in nonblack individuals. White matter grade was greater in women and in black individuals. Regression models of the healthier subgroup showed similar associations, except for a lack of association of sulcal and ventricular size with race.

Conclusion: Sulcal width, ventricular size, and white matter signal intensity change with age, sex, and race. Knowledge of these changes is important in appropriate interpretation of MR images of the elderly.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / pathology*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology*
  • Cerebral Ventricles / pathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Continental Population Groups
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Factors