Thalamic or hypothalamic astrocytoma
The first step in treating your child is forming an accurate and complete diagnosis.Your child’s physician may order a number of different tests to best diagnose the tumor, in order to see exactly where it is and whether or how far it has spread. In addition to a physical exam, a medical history and neurological exam (which tests reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination and alertness), your child’s doctor may request tests including:
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 of the brain. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays. If a low-grade astrocytoma is suspected, your child may have a CT scan of the brain.
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of the brain and spine. For low-grade astrocytomas, an MRI of the brain is usually done.
- biopsy: In many cases, a tissue sample from the tumor will be taken through a needle during a simple surgical procedure to confirm the diagnosis.
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.
Reviewed by Mark Kieran, MD, PhD
© Children’s Hospital Boston, 2010