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Diagnostics & Testing

Cleveland Clinic’s Burkhardt Brain Tumor Center offers the full array of imaging capabilities for diagnosing brain tumors. These technologies may also allow early detection of a brain tumor recurrence, enabling earlier treatment.

Brain tumors can be diagnosed using computer technology that images the brain. Computerized tomography (CT) uses a computer and X-rays to make a 2-D axial image of the brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) creates a brain and brain tumor image using magnetic fields and radio waves. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) shows the chemical composition of the brain. Other imaging techniques that may be used to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of a tumor include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), digital subtraction angiography (DSA), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), positron emission tomography (PET), and single photon electron computerized tomography (SPECT).

In addition to their usefulness at the time of initial diagnosis, these technologies may also allow early detection of a brain tumor recurrence, which facilitates earlier treatment.

Most patients with a brain tumor undergo a biopsy, the surgical removal of a tissue sample from the tumor, either alone or as part of the surgical removal of a tumor. A neuropathologist examines the sample under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis, classify the tumor more specifically by the type of cells it contains, determine how abnormal the tumor cells are (histologic grade) and determine how quickly it is growing. The subtle but critical differences in cells that the pathologist detects under the microscope are crucial in making the correct diagnosis, which is used in determining further testing and appropriate brain tumor treatment for each patient. Today, the microscopic examination of some tumors may be extended by testing for changes in certain chromosomes and the presence or absence of certain molecules in the tumor cells, which can influence treatment.

Neuroradiology Procedures:

  • CT imaging of the brain and spine
  • MR imaging of the brain and spine including MR perfusion and CSF flow and CSF leak studies
  • Functional MR imaging
  • Diffusion Tensor imaging
  • MR spectroscopy
  • Myelography
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Blood patch
  • Image-guided percutaneous biopsy
  • Diagnostic Angiography
  • Interventional Angiography (stenting,embolization, thrombolysis, petrosal sinus sampling)
  • Vertebroplasty
  • Carotid Ultrasound
  • Transcranial Doppler
  • PET, CT and PET MR imaging
  • Bone Scan and other Nuclear Medicine examinations
  • Radiographs

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