Your Mayo Clinic specialist will start by taking a medical history and conducting a physical exam that includes your vision, hearing, balance, coordination and reflexes. Depending on those results, your doctor may request imaging tests or biopsy or both. These tests are important in determining the best treatment for glioma. At Mayo Clinic, your diagnostic testing generally can be completed in a few days.
Mayo Clinic has radiologists who specialize in imaging the brain and nervous system. Imaging tests can help gauge the tumor's effect on your brain activity and function, and blood flow. Specialized imaging tests include:
- MRI. MRI is one of the most commonly used imaging tests for brain and spinal cord tumors. A contrast dye is usually injected into the bloodstream to improve imaging of the tumor. Special MRI techniques such as perfusion, functional mapping and intraoperative MRI are available at Mayo Clinic. These tests can help identify critical brain areas involved in speech and motor activity that may be affected by the tumor.
- CT scan. A CT scan can help identify certain types of tumors and can find signs of bleeding into a tumor. CT is especially helpful in identifying tumors close to or involving bone.
- Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS). This test can provide biochemical information to guide glioma treatment decisions.
- Positron emission tomography (PET) and single-photo emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan. These tests can provide information about the functioning of organs affected by a tumor.
- Angiogram. A special dye is injected into the arteries that feed the brain, making the blood vessels visible on X-ray. This test helps locate blood vessels in and around a brain tumor.
Your surgeon will typically remove a small tissue sample (biopsy) from the tumor for further study that can confirm its type. Mayo Clinic has doctors who specialize in assessing brain tissue tumors (neuropathologists) to categorize the type of tumor, which is critical in determining the appropriate treatment for you.
Read more about MRI, CT, PET and SPECT scans.