Giant mesencephalothalamic VR spaces and obstructive hydrocephalus
History of trauma since 2004; the patient was admitted to ICU where CT brain was done and "brain tumor" was diagnosed. The patient did nothing and now is presenting with headache and left sided weakness.
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Multiple thin-walled cystic spaces are seen; predominantly at the right midbrain and right hypothalamus as well as the right thalamus and basal ganglia. They present isointense signal to the CSF on all pulse sequences with no significant post-contrast enhancement. Similar lesions are seen within the left midbrain and basal ganglia. The lesions are seen surrounding and significantly compressing the cerebral aqueduct with consequent moderate dilatation of the ventricular system. normal adjacent brain parenchyma. No area of restricted diffusion. Prominent extra-axial CSF spaces. No extra-axial collections. Partial empty sella with intra-sellar herniation of the supra-sellar cistern with widened sella turcica and the pituitary gland is seen flattened against the sellar floor.
Diagnosis: Expanding and giant Virchow-Robin spaces; predominantly within the right midbrain, hypothalamus, thalamus and basal ganglia (mesencephalothalamic giant VR spaces) with mass effect on the cerebral aqueduct and supratentorial obstructive hydrocephalus.
The typical CSF signal and normal adjacent brain parenchyma as well as lack of soft tissue component and post-contrast enhancement allow a confident diagnosis of giant virchow Robin (VR) spaces. It is also helpful that the patient has had this finding for almost a decade without change.
The differential diagnosis of dilated VR spaces include lacunar infarctions ( with perilesional gliosis), multiple sclerosis, neurocysticercosis, cystic neoplasms e.g. pilocytic astrocytoma ( with small solid component and post contrast enhancment of the cystic wall and the solid component), mucopolysaccharidoses e.g. Hurler's syndrome as well as neuroepithelial and arachnoid cysts.
- Robert MK & Thomas CK. Virchow-Robin Spaces at MR Imaging1RadioGraphics 2007; 7:1071–1086