Symptoms that accompany a brain tumor can vary depending on the size and the specific location of the tumor. Additionally, similar symptoms may be caused by something other than a brain tumor. A detailed neurological exam as well as imaging studies such as CT and MRI will help physicians determine what is causing a patient’s symptoms.
The role of radiology in diagnosing and providing pre-surgical information is critical. Various imaging techniques may be used during the initial identification of a tumor and diagnosis, and then also to provide detailed brain mapping that helps direct the surgical approach.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses magnets and radio waves to make detailed pictures of organs, tissue and structures in the body. It is an important part of diagnosing brain tumors.
Computerized tomography (CT Scan) provides three-dimensional images of parts of the body using a series of X-rays taken from different angles.
Functional MRI detects blood flow to certain areas of the brain while tasks are performed. This can help identify which part of the brain is helping control certain functions and provide a roadmap for surgeons so they can work to avoid those areas while operating.
Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) This advanced white matter imaging helps determine how fiber tracks are connected in the brain and can be uploaded in the OR to help provide a GPS for the neurosurgeon to avoid these critical brain “circuits."
Angiogram can be useful in pre-surgical planning and also to deliver intra-arterial chemotherapy to the tumor directly.
Biopsy Neurosurgeons will take tissue samples when removing a tumor or during a separate surgical procedure so that the pathology of the tumor can be studied. We use neuropathology with molecular diagnosis to help guide the treatment and personalize care for patients.