The Italian Journal of Neurological Sciences

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 367–370 | Cite as

The first italian report on “Binswanger's disease”

  • L. Pantoni
  • M. Moretti
  • D. Inzitari
Hystory Of Neurology


The eponym “Binswanger's disease” is frequently used to indicate a form of vascular dementia characterized by white matter rarefaction and lacunar infarcts; however, it is difficult to find any consistency between this picture and the single case reported by Binswanger in 1894, which was vaguely defined both clinically and pathologically, and was probably a case of neurosyphilis.

The first Italian report of a case of “Binswanger's disease” was published in 1958 by Donegani and Grattarola, who described a patient with a history of manic episodes followed by progressive mental deterioration. Pathological examination revealed changes mainly located in the hemispheric white matter, and the authors defined the patient as being affected by Binswanger's encephalopathy. Re-evaluation of this report indicates that the term “Binswanger's disease” has been applied to cases with non-specific clinical and pathological characteristics in the past.

In this paper, we briefly compare Binswanger's original and the 1958 Italian case report, and discuss the current use of the term “Binswanger's disease”.

Key Words

Cerebrovascular disease Dementia History Subcortical arteriosclerotic encephalopathy Binswanger's disease White matter abnormalities Leukoaraiosis 


L'eponimo “malattia di Binswanger” è frequentemente usato per indicare una forma di demenza vascolare caratterizzata da rarefazione della sostanza bianca emisferica ed infarti lacunari. Tuttavia, è difficile individuare una stretta analogia fra tale quadro e quello riportato da Binswanger nel 1894 in un singolo paziente vagamente definito sia clinicamente che patologicamente, e interpretabile come un caso di neurosifilide.

Nel 1958 Donegani e Grattarola descrissero il caso di un paziente affetto da episodi maniacali seguiti da progressivo decadimento mentale. L'esame patologico rivelò alterazioni localizzate principalmente nella sostanza bianca. Gli autori definirono il caso come affetto da encefalopatia di Binswanger. Questa può essere considerata la prima pubblicazione italiana sulla “malattia di Binswanger”. La revisione dell'articolo indica che già nel passato il termine “malattia di Binswanger” è stato applicato a casi con caratteristiche clinico-patologiche non specifiche.

Vengono rivisiti e comparati il caso originale di Binswanger e quello italiano del 1958. Inoltre si avanzano delle considerazioni sull'uso corrente del termine “malattia di Binswanger”.


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Copyright information

© Masson S.p.A 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Pantoni
    • 1
  • M. Moretti
    • 1
  • D. Inzitari
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurological and Psychiatric SciencesUniversity of FlorenceFirenzeItaly

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