Testing & Diagnosis for Chondrosarcoma of the Head and Neck in Children

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How is chondrosarcoma diagnosed?

Diagnostic procedures for chondrosarcoma are used to determine the exact type of tumor your child has and whether the tumor has spread.

These may include: 

  • physical exam and neurologic function tests including reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination and alertness
  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body and/or spine
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) which is a test done along with MRI at specialized facilities that can detect the presence of particular organic compounds produced by the body's metabolism within sample tissue
    • This helps us identify tissue as either normal or tumor, and may be able to distinguish between glial tumors and tumors of neuronal origin.
  • computerized tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) to capture a detailed view of the body
  • biopsy or tissue sample from the tumor to provide definitive information about the type of tumor
    • This is collected during surgery.
  • lumbar puncture (spinal tap) to remove a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid 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.


Once chondrosarcoma has been diagnosed, the tumor is staged. This process shows how far the tumor has spread from its original location. The stage of the tumor and grade of the tumor (how aggressive the tumor is) suggests which form of treatment is most appropriate, and gives us an idea of the prognosis.

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