Extensive widening of Virchow-Robin spaces in the frontal lobe: two case reports and systematic review of the literature

Acta Neurol Belg. 2023 Dec;123(6):2129-2138. doi: 10.1007/s13760-022-02098-6. Epub 2022 Oct 22.


Aim: To report our experience on giant tumefactive Virchow-Robin spaces (GTVRS) in the frontal lobe and perform a systematic review of previous reports on GTVRS.

Materials and methods: This is a retrospective single-center study reporting the clinical manifestations, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging appearance, differential diagnosis, and management of two patients diagnosed with frontal lobe GTVRS at Bahcesehir University School of Medicine Goztepe Hospital in the past 5 years. A systematic literature search was performed in the PubMed and Google Scholar databases, with case selection criteria including Virchow-Robin spaces (VRS) size greater than 1.5 cm, frontal lobe localization, and the presence of MR imaging. The search strategy included only English language keywords. The systematic review was searched between database inception and May 6, 2022.

Results: A total of 18 cases were included in the study. Of the 15 cases with known sex, nine were female and six male. The median age was 29.8 with an age range of 4-57. Eleven of the 18 lesions were in the right frontal lobe. The lesions were multilocular in 15 cases and unilocular in three cases. All lesions had signal intensity as cerebrospinal fluid, showed no perifocal edema, and did not enhance. A hyperintensity was noted around the 14 lesions on the FLAIR sequence. Ten lesions showed cortical thinning adjacent to the lesion. No abnormality was detected on DWI, SWI, and MRS. Follow-up imaging was available in ten patients without any interval change. Unnecessary surgical interventions were noted in three cases.

Conclusions: The results of reported cases and the literature review emphasize the role of MR imaging in the diagnosis of frontal lobe GTVRS. Beyond diagnostic consideration, GTVRS may have prognostic value and often indicate a "don't touch lesion" albeit requiring further consideration on a case-to-case basis. Familiarity with this entity improves diagnostic accuracy and, prevents accidental diagnosis of any neoplasm or other diseases.

Keywords: Dilated perivascular spaces; Extensive Virchow-Robin spaces; Frontal lobe; Giant Virchow-Robin spaces; Magnetic resonance imaging.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / diagnostic imaging
  • Glymphatic System*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Subarachnoid Space / pathology