Testing & Diagnosis for Anaplastic Astrocytoma in Children

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How is an anaplastic astrocytoma diagnosed?

Anaplastic astrocytomas are diagnosed using a combination of tests including a physical examination, including neurologic function tests including: reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination and alertness.

  • computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) to capture a which detailed view of the body and to assess the density of tumor tissue versus normal brain. This scan can also tell us if the tumor is creating pressure and causing damage to normal brain tissue taking. 
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body and/or spine. MRI provides greater anatomical detail than CT scan and can better distinguish between tumor, tumor-related swelling and normal tissue. In addition, MRI can distinguish between a hemorrhage and a tumor cyst.
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), which is done along with MRI to detect the presence of particular organic compounds produced by the body’s metabolism. This also helps us qualify tissue as normal or tumor, and may be able to help us determine where the tumor tissue originated.
  • biopsy to collection of a tissue sample either through a needle or during surgery performed by a pediatric neurosurgeon to confirm the diagnosis.
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