Child's Nervous System

, Volume 27, Issue 12, pp 2057–2066 | Cite as

The Virchow-Robin spaces: delineation by magnetic resonance imaging with considerations on anatomofunctional implications

  • Satoshi Tsutsumi
  • Masanori Ito
  • Yukimasa Yasumoto
  • Takashi Tabuchi
  • Ikuko Ogino
Original Paper



The Virchow-Robin spaces (V-R spaces) are well-known, but not systematically understood fluid-filled perivascular spaces that allow the convexity and basal perforating vessels to penetrate deep into the cerebral parenchyma.


This study aims to delineate anatomical characteristics of the normal V-R spaces by MR imaging with considerations on clinical and anatomofunctional implications of the V-R spaces.


In this prospective study with 3T magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, the whole extent of the intracranial V-R spaces was classified into basal, cortical, subcortical, paraventricular, and brainstem segments, on the basis of the topological difference in 105 control subjects. Morphological characteristics in each segment of the V-R spaces are described. For comparison with the neuroimaging appearance, V-R spaces were histologically examined in cadaveric human brains. The physiological functions of the V-R spaces and pathognomonic implications of unusually dilated, but asymptomatic, V-R spaces encountered in five subjects are discussed.


The V-R spaces were found to form a complicated, while anatomically highly consistent, intraparenchymal canal network distributed over the whole cerebral hemispheres and connect the cerebral convexity, basal cistern, and ventricular system.


The V-R spaces may be essential for drainage routes of cerebral metabolites, additional buoyancy for the brain, and maintenance of homogenous intracranial pressure. MR imaging may be more advantageous in depicting the V-R spaces than histological examination.


Virchow-Robin spaces Anatomy Physiological function Dilated Virchow-Robin spaces 



This work was not supported by any grants.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest concerning the materials or methods used in this study or the findings specified in this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Satoshi Tsutsumi
    • 1
  • Masanori Ito
    • 1
  • Yukimasa Yasumoto
    • 1
  • Takashi Tabuchi
    • 2
  • Ikuko Ogino
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Neurological SurgeryJuntendo University Urayasu HospitalUrayasuJapan
  2. 2.Division of Radiological TechnologyMedical Satellite Yaesu ClinicTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Neurological SurgeryJuntendo University School of MedicineTokyoJapan

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