J Korean Soc Radiol.  2022 May;83(3):538-558. 10.3348/jksr.2022.0049.

An Enlarged Perivascular Space: Clinical Relevance and the Role of Imaging in Aging and Neurologic Disorders

  • 1Department of Radiology, Chung-Ang University Hospital, Chung-Ang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Department of Radiology, Konkuk University Medical Center, Konkuk University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


The perivascular space (PVS) of the brain, also known as Virchow-Robin space, consists of cerebrospinal fluid and connective tissues bordered by astrocyte endfeet. The PVS, in a word, is the route over the arterioles, capillaries, and venules where the substances can move. Although the PVS was identified and described first in the literature approximately over 150 years ago, its importance has been highlighted recently after the function of the waste clearing system of the interstitial fluid and wastes was revealed. The PVS is known to be a microscopic structure detected using T2-weighted brain MRI as dot-like hyperintensity lesions when enlarged. Although until recently regarded as normal with no clinical consequence and ignored in many circumstances, several studies have argued the association of an enlarged PVS with neurodegenerative or other diseases. Many questions and unknown facts about this structure still exist; we can only assume that the normal PVS functions are crucial in keeping the brain healthy. In this review, we covered the history, anatomy, pathophysiology, and MRI findings of the PVS; finally, we briefly touched upon the recent trials to better visualize the PVS by providing a glimpse of the brain fluid dynamics and clinical importance of the PVS.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Brain Perivascular Space; Glymphatic System; Cognitive Aging; Neurodegenerative Diseases
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