Your doctor may conduct one or more of the following tests if a brain tumor is suspected:
- Neurologic exam: Your vision, hearing, alertness, muscle strength, coordination, and reflexes will be checked, and your eyes will be examined for swelling that might be caused by increased pressure inside the head.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This type of scan uses an SUV-sized device, built around a powerful magnet and linked to a computer, to make detailed pictures of the interior of your head or spine. In some cases, a harmless dye, injected through a blood vessel in your arm or hand, helps highlight differences among brain tissues during the scan.
- Computed Tomography (CT) scan/3-D imaging: An advanced, computer-assisted x-ray machine makes detailed pictures of the interior of your head. In some cases, a harmless dye, injected through a blood vessel in your arm or hand, helps highlight differences among brain tissues during the scan.
- Angiogram: During a conventional x-ray, a harmless dye, injected through a blood vessel in your arm or hand, highlights the blood flow through brain tissues. If a tumor is present, the x-ray can reveal it, or the blood vessels that feed it.
- Biopsy: Taking an actual sample of the suspect tissue is the most definitive way to diagnose a brain tumor and plan appropriate treatment. After other diagnostic techniques have confirmed the presence and site of a tumor, a neurosurgeon may perform the biopsy, as a preliminary diagnostic step before surgical treatment or during surgical treatment.
- Stereotactic biopsy: This pre-surgery biopsy is commonly used to diagnose a tumor deep inside the brain, or in an inoperable location. With a rigid frame placed around your head for guidance, the surgeon makes a small incision in the scalp and creates a small hole in the skull. Anesthesia may be either local or general. Inserting a hollow needle through the hole and withdrawing a small tissue sample, the surgeon follows CT, MRI or iMRI scans to insure accurate placement.