Virchow-Robin spaces in childhood migraine

Neuroradiology. 1999 Apr;41(4):283-7. doi: 10.1007/s002340050749.


Virchow-Robin spaces (VRS) are pia-lined extensions of the subarachnoid space which surround penetrating arteries as they enter the brain on its surface. Using high-resolution MRI, which shows small penetrating arteries, we studied a possible association of accentuated VRS in children with tension-type headache (TTH) or migraine. We studied 58 children aged 3-14 years (mean 10.8 years) with a clinical diagnosis of migraine (31) or TTH (27), who underwent cerebral MRI, and 30 headache-free patients of the same age (mean 10.2 years) and 30 adult migraineurs with postpubertal onset of symptoms, who served as controls. The images were reviewed for structural abnormalities in the regions of the small penetrating arteries. Accentuated VRS were found in 61% of the children with migrainous headaches and in 22% of children of those with TTH. Prominent VRS were seen in 27% of the control children and in only 13% of the adults. Small infarcts and gliosis were rare in children with or without headache, but were seen in 30% of the adult migraineurs. Our findings show that accentuated VRS are significantly more common in children with migraine than in those with TTH or headache-free controls. Detection of accentuated VRS may therefore enhance differential diagnosis of primary headaches in children, contributing to an improvement in management.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Arteries / pathology
  • Arterioles / pathology
  • Brain / blood supply*
  • Cerebral Infarction / diagnosis
  • Cerebral Infarction / pathology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Gliosis / diagnosis
  • Gliosis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / pathology*
  • Pia Mater / pathology*
  • Subarachnoid Space / pathology
  • Tension-Type Headache / pathology*