Diagnostic Tests for Brain Tumours
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Diagnostic Tests for Brain Tumours

  • Sunday, 08 February 2009 17:59
  • Last Updated Tuesday, 19 May 2009 06:04

The main way of identifying a brain Tumor is by the use of an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or a CT scan (computerized tomography) combined with an analysis of the brain tissue.

CT scanning provides successive X-ray views of thin sections of the brain. Contrast agents are given by injection before CT scanning to improve the read­ability of the scan.

MR imaging (MRI) is a very precise and sensitive tool for evaluating tumors in the brain. Unlike CT scanning, an MRI does not rely on radiation, but makes use of magnetic field patterns with a contrast agent called gadolinium. For evaluating a brain tumor and follow-up, an MRI is generally the preferred method.

It is common to feel anxious before undergoing an MRI. Bring up concerns beforehand as the doctor may be able to prescribe medication to help relieve the symptoms of apprehension. Open MRI facilities may be available for claustrophobic patients, pediatric patients, larger patients, or for others unable to have a traditional MRI.

Gadolinium, the contrast agent used with an MRI, may cause a temporary headache. Tests to check kidney function may be performed prior to giving gadolinium. Because an MRI uses magnetic fields, it is important to let the doctor know if there is any metal implanted in the body.

Biopsies are used to obtain a sample of tissue from the tumor site. Safety and the location of the tumor deter­mine the most appropriate biopsy procedure. If a tumor is deemed to be operable, the sample is obtained at the same time as the surgery. If a tumor is difficult to access, a stereotactic (or needle) biopsy may be used. A pathologist examines the tissue under a microscope to classify the tumor type and its grade.

© 2008 National Brain Tumor Society. All rights reserved. All use subject to Terms and Conditions of Use set forth at http://www.braintumor.org. All materials published on or used on the Site are protected by copyright, and used with permission from National Brain Tumor Society.

Relevant Website Sections
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
CT Scan
Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan)
Electroencephalography (EEG)
Visual Field Testing (Perimetry)

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