How is gliomatosis cerebri diagnosed?
Gliomatosis cerebri is most commonly diagnosed from radiologic studies. Since often the tumor appears to have no primary location and grows aggressively, biopsies are risky. However, a biopsy may be performed if a primary mass is indentified, or if your child’s symptoms and other tests do not seem typical for the condition.
Diagnostic procedures for gliomatosis cerebri may include:
- physical examination
- computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT 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. A CT scan can assess the density of tumor tissue compared to normal brain tissue, as well as establish its mass effect (the effect of an additional space occupying mass within the closed cavity of the skull on the normal brain).
- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)- 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. On an MRI, gliomatosis cerebri will typically appear as a lesion that grows without distinct borders.
- magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)- 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).