By Medically reviewed by Panel Perubatan Hello Doktor


What is encephalomalacia?

Encephalomalacia is a condition characterized by localized softening of brain tissues due to inflammation or hemorrhage. The softening may occur in a specific part of the brain or may be more widespread. In some rare cases, deterioration or degeneration of the brain may lead to extensive softening of the substances within. It can affect different parts of the organ and damage tissues in the frontal lobe, occipital lobe, parietal lobe as well as the temporal lobe. The disease leads causes to completely stoppage of working of the affected part of the brain. It affects both adults and children and can even occur in utero. The disorder is also known as cerebral softening.

According to the part of the brain that is affected, the condition can be divided into the following two types:

  • Leukoencephalomalacia (Encephalomalacia affecting the white matter)
  • Polioencephalomalacia (Encephalomalacia affecting the gray matter)

This disorder can also be classified into the three following categories according to their colors and the stages of damage:

  • Red softening
  • Yellow softening
  • White softening

How common is encephalomalacia?

Both men and women are more likely to develop encephalomalacia. However, it can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of encephalomalacia?

An individual with this condition can experience various mild to severe symptoms due to the discontinuation of the functioning of the involved part of the brain. These symptoms include:

  • Sleepiness
  • Blindness
  • Headache
  • Ataxia
  • Head pressing
  • Head spinning (vertigo)
  • Terminal coma
  • Sometimes, this condition leads to a variation in the size of the brain which may trigger a change in the pliability of the brain.

When should I see my doctor?

Early diagnosis and treatment can stop encephalomalacia worsening and prevent another medical emergency, so talk to your doctor as soon as possible to prevent this serious condition.

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes encephalomalacia?

Various diseases and health conditions can cause this decline in the brain. The disorder generally occurs due to a stroke or some serious head injury which can lead to bleeding or hemorrhage into the brain. Cerebral Softening is most commonly seen in areas with an abnormal accumulation of blood.

In some cases, a certain part of the brain may undergo softening due to inadequate blood flow. The disturbance in the blood flow may result from:

  • Stroke
  • Severe swelling in the brain that interrupts cerebral blood flow
  • Removal of tumors from within the brain that have infested and destroyed surrounding tissues

A certain part of the brain dies due to a stroke which causes the neurons to be substituted by scar tissue consisting of astrocytes. This scar tissue undergoes contractions and forms encephalomalacia in the brain.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for encephalomalacia?

Many scientists think that this condition occurs due to a traumatic brain injury. Blunt, as well as penetrating trauma during an accident or assault could increase the risk of softening of the brain tissue. Head trauma could occur in the event of a hard blow to the head that causes the brain to hit against the skull. Penetrating head trauma could occur in case of a wound caused by a sharp weapon. Brain tissue could even get inflamed due to trauma during a surgical procedure.

Diagnosis & Treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.


How is encephalomalacia diagnosed?

Doctors use different tools to help them diagnose encephalomalacia. If your doctor suspect that you may experience this condition, the first step of this process is to examine your body. After this, it is necessary that your doctor will likely order one or more of the following tests:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI scan is the most commonly used method for detecting any sign of softening in the brain.
  • CT scan of the brain is another useful diagnostic test.

How is encephalomalacia treated?      

There are no definite ways of curing this disorder as it is not possible to make destroyed brain tissues start working again. Researchers are still trying to find out whether it is possible to restore normal functionality of the partially affected brain tissues.

The treatment for this disease mainly consists of detecting the underlying cause behind the change in brain consistency and dealing with it properly. In extremely severe cases, damaged brain substance may be removed by surgery. However, the brain consistency undergoes a considerable change due to the removal of the softened brain material. It is still unclear whether the changes in the functional mobility of a brain can ever make the sensations return to normal again.

Experts are trying find out the usefulness of stem cell therapy for treating this brain disorder.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage encephalomalacia?

There is no known way for preventing this condition. An individual may be careful to avoid any severe blow to the head as serious head trauma may result into Cerebral softening. Following a healthy diet, containing plenty of food rich in vitamin E, may also help to reduce the risk of development of this type of brain declination. If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Review Date: March 2, 2017 | Last Modified: December 4, 2019

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