Diagnosing Pediatric Astrocytomas
If it is suspected that your child may have an astrocytoma, we will perform various tests on the brain and spinal cord to make a diagnosis. Our Sheba pediatric brain tumor specialists have extensive experience and use the latest techniques. A precise diagnosis of the location and grade of the cancer is necessary for outlining the most suitable treatment options for your child. We may order the following tests and procedures:
Physical exam and case history
We will examine the body thoroughly to check general signs of health. A history of the child’s medical condition will also be taken.
Our physician will administer a series of questions and tests to check the brain, spinal cord, and nerve function. A neurological examination checks coordination, mental status, and the child’s ability to walk normally, evaluating the function of the muscles, senses, and reflexes.
Visual field exam
This test evaluates the child’s field of vision, checking both central vision and peripheral vision.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) with gadolinium
This imaging procedure generates detailed pictures of areas inside the brain and spinal cord. We will inject a contrast substance called gadolinium into a vein, and this substance collects around cancer cells so they appear brighter in the picture. An MRI may also be done in the first few days following surgery to check how much tumor (if any) remains after removal.
This imaging procedure creates a 3D picture of the inside of the body. The detailed, cross-sectional views show if there are any abnormalities or tumors. A CT scan may also be used to measure the size of the tumor if astrocytoma has already been diagnosed.
For astrocytoma, a biopsy is performed to figure out the type and grade of the tumor. It can also provide essential information for designing the treatment program. A neurosurgeon performs the biopsy procedure by removing a small piece of tissue from the tumor. A pathologist then analyzes the tissue sample under a microscope to inspect for signs of cancer.
In this test, a doctor will remove a small sample of cerebrospinal fluid from near the base of the spine to assess if the tumor has spread.
We may run laboratory tests on a tissue sample taken from the tumor to identify particular genes and proteins that are unique to the child’s astrocytoma. These results can help us determine whether your child is a candidate for targeted therapy as a treatment option.