Brain Tumors

March 23rd, 2020 by
brain tumors

What are Tumors?

A brain tumor is an abnormal growth that occurs due to uncontrolled cell multiplication. The presence of brain tumors can affect the normal structure and activities of the brain in many ways, including increasing pressure on the brain or skull, blocking structures, or damaging nerves and tissue.

Brain tumors are most often classified by their origin or how they grow. Regardless of classification, any brain tumor has the potential to become life-threatening if left untreated.

When classifying by origin, the terms used are Primary and Metastatic.

  • Primary tumors are those located at the site where the tumor began to grow or originated, meaning primary brain tumors rarely spread to other areas. Primary brain tumors can be further classified as glial tumors and non-glial tumors. Glial tumors are also called gliomas.
  • Metastatic, or secondary, tumors are those that have spread to other parts of body from the original tumor site.

When classifying by rate of growth, the terms used are Benign and Malignant.

  • Malignant, or cancerous, tumors tend to keep growing despite treatment and can become life threatening.
  • Benign, or non-cancerous, tumors tend to grow slower than malignant tumors. Depending on their location in the brain, benign tumors can often be cured by treatment or removal, but they can still cause serious issues if left untreated.

Causes of Brain Tumors

A tumor is an abnormal growth caused by abnormal cell multiplication that does not serve any physiological function. Cell division is regulated by the tumor suppressor genes. These genes also help to repair any damage caused to the DNA. Tumor suppressor genes are constantly at war against the cancer-causing genes called oncogenes. When tumor suppressor genes fail to function properly due to mutations that affect protein encoding, unregulated cell division and growth can occur and cause the development of a tumor.

The body's natural defense system should optimally detect the abnormal cells and kill them. But tumors may produce substances that obstruct the immune system from recognizing the abnormality of tumor cells and eventually the tumor cells may overpower all internal and external checks to their growth.

Certain types of radiation exposure and genetic disorders have been linked with brain tumors. Although some environmental factors are suspected of contributing to the development of tumors, doctors do not know many of the risk factors of many types of tumors yet.

Symptoms of Brain Tumors:

There are many different kinds of brain tumors, so the symptoms will vary depending on the specific type, size, and location of the tumor. Some of the more common symptoms of brain tumors include:

  • Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of brain tumors. Specifically, headaches upon waking, non-migraine headaches accompanied by vomiting, headaches accompanied by double vision, numbness, or weakness, and headaches accompanied by neck pain.
  • Seizure
  • Changes in personality or behavior
  • Changes in mental function, which could include memory loss, confusion, speech difficulty, or impaired concentration or reasoning
  • Increase in sleeping time
  • Gradual loss of movement or sensation in arms or legs, balance problems
  • Difficulties with speech and comprehension
  • Visual problems or changes

Diagnosis of Tumors

Your doctor will perform a neurological exam to test your mental and physical functioning. During this exam, faculties including your eyes, ears, nose, muscles, sensations, balance, coordination, mental state and memory may be tested. If the results are abnormal, imaging studies may be used to give a clearer image of the brain. Tests performed may include magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, computed tomography, or CT, and biopsy to examine a sample of tissue from the tumor.

Treatment Options for Brain Tumors

If the tumor is static or growing slowly and does not cause pressure on the adjacent brain tissue, conservative therapy may be utilized. Patients are closely monitored on a regular basis with MRI scans and if the tumor grows or the patient develops symptoms related to it, treatment is started.

If the tumor is growing fast, or is life threatening, definitive therapy may be utilized. This can include more aggressive treatment techniques such as surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Biopsies and surgical treatment of brain tumors generally require a craniotomy.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

All materials copyright © 2019, All Rights Reserved.

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Traumatic Brain Injury

March 23rd, 2020 by
Traumatic Brain Injury

What is Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury (also known as TBI) is an injury to the head as a result of hard impact or a piercing injury that disturbs the normal functioning of the brain. TBI can occur if something hits the head violently or when an object breaks the cranium and penetrates the brain tissue. Damage to brain tissues may result in changes in personality, mental state or consciousness. Traumatic brain injuries can be mild, moderate or acute depending on the degree of damage to the brain tissue. A mild TBI can cause small changes to the functions of the brain and temporary unconsciousness. A severe TBI can cause long periods of unconsciousness and coma. A severe TBI can also be life threatening.

Causes of Traumatic Brain Injury

The cause of traumatic brain injury is damage to the tissues of brain. Brain tissues can be damaged as a result of a sudden violent blow, jolt, bump to the head or other types of head injuries. Almost 50% of traumatic brain injuries are caused by motor vehicle accidents. Military personnel are at a greater risk of suffering from traumatic brain injuries; this is due to there being a higher probability of head injury both during training and while on the battle field.

Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

The symptoms of TBI may not appear immediately after an impact to the head. Symptoms may begin to appear a few days or even a week following the impact. Examples of TBI symptoms include:

  • Excretion of spinal fluid (thin water-like fluid) from ears or nose
  • Problems with balance and lack of coordination
  • Slower rate of breathing with higher blood pressure
  • Changes in hearing ability
  • Confusion and lack of cognitive function
  • Difficulty in moving body parts or paralysis
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty in speaking
  • Loss of bladder control
  • State of coma or semi-comatose
  • Vision problems (e.g., double vision, blurred vision, difficulty tolerating light)

Diagnosis of TBI

The diagnosis of traumatic brain injury is often self-evident. A person who has suffered an impact to the head should have a thorough medical examination to determine if a TBI has occured. The following techniques are typically used to diagnose a TBI.

  • Physical examination: A physical examination is conducted to reveal functional problems with hearing, sight, balance and coordination.
  • Neuropsychological evaluation: Psychological and mental evaluation may be carried out to find out whether the brain is functioning normally.
  • CT Scans and MRI scans can be used to visualize internal injuries and internal bleeding within the skull.

Treatment Options:

The following treatment options can be used depending on the severity of TBI.

  • Surgical treatment: Surgery is used to remove any blood clots (hematomas) from the head. Removing blood clots will reduce pressure on the surrounding brain tissues.
  • Observation: Patients who have undergone surgery are closely monitored in the intensive care unit. The patients who have suffered mild TBI and have not undergone surgery are also monitored to detect the development of any complications.
  • Medicinal treatment: Currently, there are no medications that can prevent nerve damage or facilitate the healing of a nerve after damage has occurred.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.

All materials copyright © 2019, All Rights Reserved.

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