Brain tumor signs and symptoms initially may be vague and come and go, depending on the size and location of the tumor. Many other diseases cause similar signs and symptoms, making diagnosis difficult. Symptoms can occur when the meningioma directly presses on brain tissue disrupting the function of areas responsible for sight, movement, balance, speech, hearing, memory or behavior.
Diagnosing a brain tumor usually begins with a neurological exam by the neurologist. Depending on those results, the doctor may request one or more of these tests.
- Computerized tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan uses a sophisticated X-ray machine linked to a computer to produce detailed, 2-D images of the brain. A CT scan can be very helpful in certain types of tumors, especially ones close to or involving bone.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. MRI is a technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the brain. Sometimes a special dye is injected into the bloodstream to make tumors appear different from healthy tissue (contrast-enhanced MRI).
- Biopsy. A separate biopsy procedure is not usually done. A specialist in assessing brain tumors (neuropathologist) examines the removed tumor to determine the kind of tumor. Correctly identifying the type of tumor is crucial to receiving the proper treatment. Mayo's neuropathologists are internationally known for their expertise in diagnosing brain tumors.