Rating scales play an important role in the evaluation of computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance-detected white matter lesions (WML). Unfortunately, this type of visual semiquantitative assessment is not yet an optimal tool because commonly agreed concepts regarding its use are lacking. To generate a discussion platform for further improvement of CT and MRI rating, we will provide some basic definitions, summarize the advantages and disadvantages of scoring schemes and review current efforts towards the improvement of this tool. Future research will have to concentrate on deepening our understanding of the histopathologic substrates of WML and on strategies to document their progression.

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