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Diagnosing a meningioma involves several steps. Your doctor typically starts by asking about your medical history, including any previous illnesses or treatment with radiation therapy. Your doctor will also ask about your family history, your habits, and your lifestyle.
Doctors use a neurological exam to diagnose a meningioma. During this exam, your doctor looks for changes to your vision, hearing, balance, coordination, strength, and reflexes. These changes can identify which part of your brain may be affected by a tumor.
Imaging tests that take pictures of your brain also help diagnose a meningioma. Doctors use a variety of imaging technologies, each offering different insights to confirm the presence, location, and type of tumor that may be present. Doctors may also take a sample of the tumor.
MRI to diagnose meningioma
Doctors often use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to diagnose meningiomas. This test uses radio waves and magnets to create images of brain structures. A technologist or nurse may perform this scan by injecting contrast dye into your arm to illuminate the tumor’s location. Doctors use 2 main types of MRI to diagnose meningiomas:
Functional MRI: Maps brain activity by evaluating the structures of the brain and detecting changes in blood flow
Perfusion MRI: Identifies parts of the brain with less blood flow, a potential sign of a tumor blocking the path
CT scan to diagnose brain tumors Some people cannot have an MRI because the magnets interfere with implanted medical devices such as pacemakers and cochlear implants. Computed tomography (CT) scans take combine multiple X-rays and provide doctors with another way to see structures in the brain.
Biopsy to diagnose a meningioma Your doctor may perform a biopsy to confirm diagnosis of a meningioma. A biopsy also provides information to help guide treatment decisions.
During a biopsy, your doctor uses a small needle to remove cells from the tumor. The cells are then examined under a microscope to confirm that the tissue is cancerous. Based on this information, a pathologist determines the grade of the tumor, which indicates how aggressive it is.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.