A protective layer of tissue called meninges covers the brain. We refer to tumours arising from this protective covering as meningiomas. These tumours are generally classified as benign. The majority of these tumours are, by nature, very slow growing. Yet, there is a small percentage which can be aggressive in their growth behaviour. They need to reach a significant size before they cause any signs or symptoms.
Meningioma tumours can present with symptoms that include:
- altered behaviour
- visual disturbances
- impairment of memory
- difficulty or weakness in coordinating the use of the arms or legs
Meningiomas need to reach a significant size before diagnosis is possible. The definitive diagnosis for such tumours is with an MRI scan. A harmless contrasting agent is usually administered. This enhances the clarity of images and assists with diagnosing internal issues. A CT scan can also provide valuable information in diagnosing meningioma tumours. The scan can detect the extent to which the tumour is covering the bone.
The location, size and symptoms of the meningiomas dictate the course of treatment.
As the majority of these tumours are benign, grow slowly and present no symptoms, it may be an option to monitor these tumours with sequential scans.
When these tumours change and need further medical attention, surgery is the definitive treatment. The neurosurgeon uses computer assisted technology and microsurgical techniques to remove the tumour. These techniques minimise any damage to the normal brain.
In a small percentage of patients, the tumours are located at critical locations. In these cases, surgical treatment has high risks and the chance of poor outcome. So, another option is to consider radiosurgical treatment.
Can meningioma tumours spread or reoccur?
Meningiomas occurring in one location are not known to spread to another location. There is a chance of reoccurrence in patients who have received surgical treatment to remove a tumour.
There are small subsets of patients who can have multiple meningiomas. This generally occurs in patients who have related genetic abnormalities. Or in patients who have had radiation exposure to their whole brain in the past.
Are there any other options than having surgery?
Surgery is the definitive treatment option, depending on the location, size and rate of growth. Radiosurgery is another treatment option when the tumour is located around vital structures. Other treatment options include monitoring with sequential MRI scans.
Will I need further monitoring or follow up after surgery?
Neuroaxis recommends close surveillance of patients who have had surgically treated meningiomas. This is due to a small chance of recurrence. Sequential MRI scans over the medium to long terms is the recommended course of action.
To make an appointment with one of our neurosurgeons, please call 03 9329 4761.