The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis, and the chances of treatment being successful are much higher if a brain tumor is caught early. Diagnostic procedures for brain tumors are used to determine the exact type of tumor your child has and whether the tumor has spread. These may include:
physical exam, tests of reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination and alertness
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce detailed images of the brain and/or spine
magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) which is a test done along with an MRI that can detect the presence of particular organic compounds produced by the body's metabolism within sample tissue; helps identify tissue as either normal or tumor, and may be able to distinguish between glial tumors and tumors of neuronal (nerve cell) origin
computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) to capture a detailed view of the bones and fluid filled spaces of the brain
biopsy or tissue sample from the tumor to provide definitive information about the type of tumor; collected during surgery
- lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to remove a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and determine if any tumor cells have started to spread. In young children, this procedure is safely performed under sedation, and is less difficult and less painful than placing an intravenous (IV) catheter.
After we complete all necessary tests, our experts meet to review and discuss what they have learned about your child's condition. Then we will meet with you and your family to discuss the results and outline the best treatment options.
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