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What is Vascular Brain Tumor?

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:

  • Headache
  • Loss of coordination and body balance
  • Changes in vision
  • Hydrocephalus (“water on the brain”)
  • Nausea

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:

Non-Surgical Treatment

  • 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 block the blood flow to the brain tumor, causing it to shrink.

Surgical Treatment

  • 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.
  • Endovascular Embolization 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 s 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.