Pediatric Brain Tumor Tests and Diagnoses

Once your child’s doctor has taken a complete medical history and performed a physical examination of your child, the following diagnostic tests are often used to determine if a brain tumor exists:

  • Neurological exam: Your child's doctor will test reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, coordination and alertness.
  • Computerized tomography scan (CAT scan or CT scan): This imaging procedure uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (called 'slices') – both horizontal and vertical – of the bones, muscles, fat and organs.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This imaging procedure uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
  • X-ray: This imaging test uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones and organs onto film.
  • Bone scan: This imaging test takes X-rays of the bones after a dye has been injected that is absorbed by bone tissue.
  • Angiogram: An angiogram is an imaging test utilizing a dye to visualize all the blood vessels in the brain to detect certain types of tumors.
  • Lumbar puncture/spinal tap: For this procedure, a special needle is placed into the lower back and into the spinal canal around the spinal cord. A small amount of cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds the brain and spinal cord, can be removed and sent for testing.