Diagnosing Brain Tumors

Many people who call The Ben & Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment have already been diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumor, but need further tests to determine the type of tumor they have.

You may have had a physical exam to check a number of key indicators, including reflexes, coordination and pressure on optic nerves. Your doctor or an emergency room doctor may have ordered a diagnostic imaging test, such as an MRI or a CT scan.

Depending on the size and location of the tumor, diagnostic imaging may provide enough information for a neurosurgeon to remove the tumor. If more information is needed, a brain biopsy is done.

On-site lab for testing biopsies

A brain biopsy involves getting a sample of the brain-tumor tissue for a pathologist to examine.  Biopsies can sometimes be performed by inserting a needle through a small hole. Other times, a small part of the skull is surgically removed to obtain a sample of the tumor tissue.

Tumor samples are taken immediately to the on-site laboratory at the Ivy Center, where they are examined by a neuropathologist. The neuropathologist determines whether a tumor is benign or malignant, and – if malignant – at what stage of brain cancer the tumor may be.

If you are from out of town, and would like to have the Ivy Center review your test results, or for a second opinion, give us a call.