A vascular brain tumor is caused due to an abnormal growth of the blood vessels that supply the brain and spinal cord and is non-cancerous (benign). It commonly occurs at the cerebellum, which is present at the back of your head and helps to maintain your body’s balance.
What Causes a Vascular Brain Tumor?
A vascular brain tumor may occur due to genetic abnormalities. However, the exact cause remains unknown.
What are the Symptoms of a Vascular Brain Tumor?
The common symptoms of a vascular brain tumor may include:
- Loss of coordination and body balance
- Changes in vision
- Hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”)
Diagnosis of a Vascular Brain Tumor
A vascular brain tumor can be diagnosed through the following tests:
- Brain imaging techniques such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and computerized tomography (CT) scans.
- Cerebral angiogram,also called cerebral angiography: This test involves injection of a dye into the blood vessels of the brain through a thin tube called a catheter to observe the blood vessels under X-ray. It produces a brain angiogram which gives an accurate location of the vascular brain tumor.
What are the Treatment Options for a Vascular Brain Tumor?
Treatment of a vascular brain tumor depends on your age and health, and the size and location of the vascular malformation. The various treatment options include:
Stereotactic Radiation Therapy or Radiosurgery
In this procedure, focused X-ray beams are targeted at the site of the vascular brain tumor, avoiding exposure to the surrounding healthy tissues. The X-ray beams scar the supplying blood vessels which blocks the blood flow to the brain tumor, causing it to shrink.
Minimally Invasive Microvascular Neurosurgery: This surgery involves the excision (cutting out) of the vascular brain tumor with a minor incision. The surgeon uses special instruments with the help of a microscope to remove the tumor tissue and then the incision is closed.
In this procedure, a thin tube called a catheter is inserted into a leg artery and under X-ray imaging, advanced through the blood vessels up into your brain. The catheter is then positioned in one of the arteries supplying the brain tumor. Then an embolizing agent such as a glue-like substance or small particle is injected to block the artery supplying the tumor.
Risks associated with Vascular Brain Tumor Surgery
As with any surgical procedure, a vascular brain tumor surgery may also carry a risk of infection, blood loss and the possibility of recurrence of a new vascular brain tumor.
Discuss with your doctor to learn more about vascular brain tumors and the treatment options that are best suited to you.