Features of Virchow-Robin spaces in newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis patients

Eur J Radiol. 2011 Nov;80(2):e104-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2010.05.018. Epub 2010 Jul 22.


Background: Virchow-Robin spaces (VRSs) are perivascular pia-lined extensions of the subarachnoid space around the arteries and veins as they enter the brain parenchyma. These spaces are responsible for inflammatory processes within the brain.

Objectives: This study was designed to shed more light on the location, size and shape of VRSs on 3mm slice thickness, 1.5 Tesla MRI scans of newly diagnosed MS patients in Isfahan, Iran and compare the results with healthy age- and sex-matched controls.

Methods: We evaluated MRI scans of 73 MS patients obtained within 3 months of MS onset and compared them with MRI scans from 73 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers. Three mm section proton density, T2W and FLAIR MR images were obtained for all subjects. The location, size and shape of VRSs were compared between the two groups.

Results: The total number of VRSs was significantly more in the MS group (p<0.001). The distribution of VRSs were significantly more located in the high convexity areas in the MS group (p<0.001), while there was no significant differences in other regions. The round shaped VRSs were significantly more detected on MRI scans of MS patients, and curvilinear shapes were significantly more frequently observed in healthy volunteers, however there were no significant differences for oval shaped VRSs between the two groups. The number of VRSs with the size over than 2mm were significantly more observed in the MS groups compared to controls. We also observed some differences in the characteristics of VRSs between the genders in the MS group.

Conclusion: The results of this study shed more light on the usefulness of VRSs as an MRI marker for the disease. In addition, according to our results VRSs might also have implication to determine the prognosis of the disease. However, larger studies with more advanced MRI techniques are required to confirm our results.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Subarachnoid Space / pathology*