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BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Cerebral small-vessel disease is a major cause of cognitive impairment. Perivascular spaces (PvS) occur in small-vessel disease, but their relationship to cognitive impairment remains uncertain. One reason may be difficulty in distinguishing between lacunes and PvS. We determined the relationship between baseline PvS score and PvS volume with change in cognition over a 5-year follow-up. We compared this to the relationship between baseline lacune count and total lacune volume with cognition. In addition, we examined change in PvS volume over time. METHODS: Data from the prospective SCANS study (St Georges Cognition and Neuroimaging in Stroke) of patients with symptomatic lacunar stroke and confluent leukoaraiosis were used (n=121). Multimodal magnetic resonance imaging was performed annually for 3 years and neuropsychological testing annually for 5 years. Lacunes were manually identified and distinguished from PvS. PvS were rated using a validated visual rating scale, and PvS volumes calculated using T1-weighted images. Linear mixed-effect models were used to determine the impact of PvS and lacunes on cognition. RESULTS: Baseline PvS scores or volumes showed no association with cognitive indices. No change was detectable in PvS volumes over the 3 years. In contrast, baseline lacunes associated with all cognitive indices and predicted cognitive decline over the 5-year follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: Although a feature of small-vessel disease, PvS are not a predictor of cognitive decline, in contrast to lacunes. This study highlights the importance of carefully differentiating between lacunes and PvS in studies investigating vascular cognitive impairment.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





586 - 593


cerebral small vessel diseases, cognition, leukoaraiosis, magnetic resonance imaging, neuroimaging, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Cognitive Dysfunction, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Multimodal Imaging, Predictive Value of Tests, Stroke, Lacunar