If you have symptoms that suggest a brain tumor, your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask about your personal and family health history. You may have one or more of the following tests:Neurologic exam: Your doctor checks your vision, hearing, alertness, muscle strength, coordination, and reflexes. Your doctor also examines your eyes to look for swelling caused by a tumor pressing on the nerve that connects the eye and the brain. MRI: A large machine with a strong magnet linked to a computer is used to make detailed pictures of areas inside your head. Sometimes a special dye (contrast material) is injected into a blood vessel in your arm or hand to help show differences in the tissues of the brain. The pictures can show abnormal areas, such as a tumor. CT scan: An x-ray machine linked to a computer takes a series of detailed pictures of your head. You may receive contrast material by injection into a blood vessel in your arm or hand. The contrast material makes abnormal areas easier to see.
Your doctor may ask for other tests:Angiogram: Dye injected into the bloodstream makes blood vessels in the brain show up on an x-ray. If a tumor is present, the x-ray may show the tumor or blood vessels that are feeding into the tumor. Spinal tap: Your doctor may remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid that fills the spaces in and around the brain and spinal cord). This procedure is performed with local anesthesia. The doctor uses a long, thin needle to remove fluid from the lower part of the spinal column. A spinal tap takes about 30 minutes. You must lie flat for several hours afterward to keep from getting a headache. A laboratory checks the fluid for cancer cells or other signs of problems. Biopsy: The removal of tissue to look for tumor cells is called a biopsy. A pathologist looks at the cells under a microscope to check for abnormal cells. A biopsy can show cancer, tissue changes that may lead to cancer, and other conditions. A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose a brain tumor, learn what grade it is, and plan treatment.
This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.If you have symptoms that suggest a brain tumor, your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask about your personal and family health history. You may have one or more of the following tests: Neurologic exam: Your doctor checks your vision,... More
Johns Hopkins Medicine answered:At Johns Hopkins, the brain tumor team will perform a variety of examinations to diagnosis a brain tumor.
A physician will assess the person’s symptoms by asking about the patient’s personal and family health history. This information combined with the neurological exam provides clues about whether a person might have a brain tumor and where it might be located. The neurological exam includes checking vision, hearing, balance, coordination, reflexes and ability to think and remember. For example, the doctor may ask a person to follow a moving finger with the person’s eye to check vision or walk heel-to-toe to check coordination.
If the doctor thinks a brain tumor is likely, the next step would include a scan of the patient’s brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT or CAT scan) are the most common types of tests used to diagnose brain tumors. Both MRI and CT scans use computers to create detailed images of the brain. CT scans can be helpful in diagnosing some types of brain tumors, especially those near or involving bone. They can also show swelling, bleeding, and bone and tissue calcification. This is often the first scan that will be used, especially in emergency situations.
Other scans include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, used to determine the specific location of the brain where a certain function, such as speech or memory, occurs, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS, used to assess chemical abnormalities in body tissues such as the brain, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, which detect changes in cells as they grow and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), which measures the flow of water through the white matter tracts of the brain.
A biopsy is performed to identify the type of tumor and is usually done during surgery to remove the brain tumor (called an open biopsy).
Other tests may be used to diagnose specific types of brain tumors, including blood and urine tests to help doctors diagnose pituitary tumors and a bone scan to help doctors diagnose skull base brain tumors.
At Johns Hopkins, the brain tumor team will perform a variety of examinations to diagnosis a brain tumor.A physician will assess the person’s symptoms by asking about the patient’s personal and family health history. This information... More