Brain Tumor Diagnostic Tools

Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center utilizes the most advanced diagnostic tools available to diagnose brain tumors. Our diagnostic tools include:

  • Advanced MRI techniques including magnetic resonance spectroscopy (metabolic scanning), perfusion MRI to determine tumor blood volume and diffusion tractography to visualize specific white matter tracts.
  • Neuromonitoring during surgery to identify and preserve cranial nerves (affecting vision, hearing, balance, facial expressions, speech and swallowing), motor mapping (preserving strength) and language mapping (preserving speech).
  • Genetic testing for brain tumors.
  • High-resolution intraoperative MRI (3T) neuronavigation for image-guided neurosurgery to identify the precise location of tumors in relation to surrounding brain fiber tracts. The surgeon develops a precise, personalized "road-map" of tumors in relation to key fiber tracts to achieve the goal of "maximal safe resection."
  • Frameless MRI-based stereotactic biopsy.
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) three-dimensional nuclear imaging.

Neuropsychology Assessment

Neuropsychology is an important component of the Penn Brain Tumor Center. Neuropsychologists work within the field of psychology and focus on brain-behavior relationships.

Pre- and post-surgical neuropsychological assessments provide information regarding the individual's cognitive strengths and weaknesses. This comprehensive process evaluates the patient's:

  • Memory
  • Language
  • Visual-spatial perception
  • Executive functioning
  • Emotions/personality

Extensive language testing helps to guide awake brain mapping as an integral part of the pre-surgical process.

Neuropsychological evaluations also address patient and family education; and recommendations for rehabilitation, disability concerns, and work/school accommodations.