- Following an assessment of symptoms, and a physical exam,
which may include a neurological exam, a Physician may order one or more of the following diagnostic tests.
CT or CAT Scan (computerized tomography scan) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. MRI provides greater anatomical detail than CT scan and does a better job of distinguishing between tumors, tumor-related swelling and normal tissue. Younger children may be given a sedative to help them remain still during the test. The MRI test is loud and sounds like banging during the test, which should be explained to the child. Parents are generally allowed to remain in the room.
MRS (magnetic resonance spectroscopy) - a test done along with an MRI. It can detect the presence of organic compounds within sample tissue that can identify the tissue as normal or tumor, and may also be able to tell if the tumor is a glial tumor or if it is of neuronal origin (originating in a neuron, instead of in a brain cell).
Biopsy or Surgery
A biopsy may be performed to assist in diagnosis of the brain tumor, and to attempt to remove as much of the tumor as possible. As typically the tumor is widespread and diffuse, it is difficult to remove the tumor during surgery.