Testing & Diagnosis for Brain Tumors in Children

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Diagnostic procedures for brain tumors are used to determine the exact type of tumor your child has and whether the tumor has spread. These may include:

  • physical exam, tests of reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination and alertness
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce detailed images of the brain and/or spine
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), which is performed along with an MRI to detect the presence of particular organic compounds produced by the body's metabolism within sample tissue. The MRS can help identify tissue as either normal or tumor and may be able to distinguish between glial tumors and tumors of neuronal (nerve cell) origin.
  • computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) to capture a detailed view of the bones and fluid filled spaces of the brain
  • biopsy or tissue sample from the tumor to provide definitive information about the type of tumor
  • lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to remove a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and determine if any tumor cells have started to spread. In young children, this procedure is safely performed under sedation and is less difficult and less painful than placing an intravenous (IV) catheter.

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.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944