Virchow-Robin spaces relate to cerebral small vessel disease severity

J Neurol. 2008 May;255(5):692-6. doi: 10.1007/s00415-008-0777-y. Epub 2008 Feb 21.


Background and purpose: Virchow-Robin spaces (VRs) are perivascular spaces surrounding the deep perforating brain arteries. VRs dilatation is pathologic, and it could be a manifestation of cerebral small vessel disease. In the present study we assessed the relation between VRs and silent ischemic lesions in a cohort of patients with cerebral small vessel disease.

Methods: We divided dilated VRs on MRI (1.5 Tesla) into three semi-quantitative categories in 165 first ever lacunar stroke patients. We counted asymptomatic lacunar infarcts and graded white matter lesions, and compared the prevalence of vascular risk factors in different categories of VRs. We also determined independent predictors of silent ischemic lesions.

Results: VRs at basal ganglia level related to age, hypertension, asymptomatic lacunar infarcts, and white matter lesions. VRs at basal ganglia level predicted silent ischemic lesions (odds ratio 10.58 per higher VRs category; 95 %- confidence interval 3.40 - 32.92).

Conclusion: Dilated VRs in the basal ganglia relate to the severity of cerebral small vessel disease and might be a manifestation of the same small vessel abnormality that causes silent ischemic lesions. This adds a role for VRs as a potential marker for small vessel disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arterioles / pathology*
  • Arterioles / physiopathology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / pathology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiopathology
  • Brain Infarction / pathology
  • Brain Infarction / physiopathology
  • Brain Ischemia / pathology*
  • Brain Ischemia / physiopathology
  • Cerebral Arteries / pathology*
  • Cerebral Arteries / physiopathology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / pathology*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / physiopathology
  • Dilatation, Pathologic / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Extracellular Space / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / pathology*
  • Microcirculation / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index