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Diagnosis of a Skull Base Tumor

Diagnosis of skull base tumors and conditions may involve:

  • A physical exam: This includes questions about the patient's symptoms, and personal and family health history.
  • A neurological exam: This test checks vision, hearing, balance, coordination, reflexes and ability to think and remember.
  • Imaging of the brain: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT or CAT scan), which use computers to create detailed images of the brain, are the most common scans used to diagnose brain tumors.

Other imaging studies include a bone scan and a PET scan:

  • A bone scan: This is a test in which radioactive material (Technetium-99) is injected in the bloodstream. The tumor absorbs the material and a special camera is used to produce an image using a computer. The bone scan is used to pinpoint the location of the bone tumor, as well as to detect the spread into other organs.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans: PET scans detect changes in cells as they grow. Often used in conjunction with a CT, a PET/CT compares tumor cells injected with a radioactive glucose to normal parts of the brain.

Other tests used to diagnose some common types of skull base tumors and conditions are endoscopy — inspection of the nasal passages with a thin, lighted instrument.

Learn more about ways to diagnose other brain tumors.

To make an appointment or request a consultation, contact the Johns Hopkins Skull Base Tumor Center at 410-614-0585.


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