Brain Tumor

Overview

A brain tumor is a result of uncontrolled cell growth in or around the brain. Tumors can arise from the brain or surrounding tissue, or they can metastasize (travel) from another part of the body.  Some tumors are benign and warrant routine supervision, while others may be malignant and require further treatment.  

Symptoms

Symptoms can vary, depending on the tumor’s size, location and growth rate.

Signs and symptoms may include:

-New onset or change in pattern of headaches
-Gradually worsening headaches
-Nausea and/or vomiting
-Vision problems including: blurred vision, double vision or peripheral vision loss
-Gradual sensation loss or movement in an arm or a leg
-Difficulty with balance, speech, and hearing
-Confusion
-Personality or behavior changes
-Seizures

Treatment

Treatments may vary depending on the location, size, and severity of the brain tumor. Most commonly in malignant tumors, a craniotomy can be performed to partially or fully remove the tumor.


Cerebrovascular Disease

Overview

This refers to a group of conditions that affect the arteries supplying oxygen to the brain, causing restricted blood flow to affected areas of the brain. Some of the conditions that may cause cerebrovascular disease include vessel narrowing (stenosis), clot formation (thrombosis), blockage (embolism), vessel rupture (hemorrhage), aneurysms, and vascular malformations which commonly results in a stroke. These conditions may be identified through diagnostic imaging tests like Cerebral Angiograms and Magnetic Resonance Angiograms (MRA).

Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of cerebrovascular disease depend on the location of the hemorrhage, thrombus, or embolus and the extent of cerebral tissue affected. However, since strokes are common in cerebral vascular disease stroke symptoms, which are usually sudden, include:

  • Dizziness, nausea, or vomiting

  • Unusually severe headache

  • Confusion, disorientation or memory loss

  • Numbness, weakness in an arm, leg or the face, especially on one side

  • Abnormal or slurred speech

  • Difficulty with comprehension

  • Loss of vision or difficulty seeing

  • Loss of balance, coordination, or the ability to walk

Treatments

Since high blood pressure is a contributing cause to cerebral vascular disease medications may be prescribed to maintain blood pressure. Other treatment options include surgeries like endovascular surgery and vascular surgery (for future stroke prevention), Carotid Endarterectomy (to remove plaque), and Carotid Angioplasty (to reopen an artery too increase blood flow).


Hemifacial Spasm

Overview

With this condition a person experiences uncontrollable facial twitching mostly on one side of the face. This is often due to compression and irritation to the facial nerve. Patients with this problems often avoid going in public due to the facial twitching.

Symptoms
Facial Twitching and muscle contractions

Treatments
Medication, surgery, and Botox injections are the most common treatments with this condition. When conservative treatments fail, our surgeons will use neuro-navigation and microscopic surgery to decompress the nerve and improve the nerve irritation and compression. Our patients often come back and report how much they social situations and have started joining in on family photos after surgery.


Trigeminal Neuralgia

Overview

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve. This nerve carries sensation from your face to your brain and can be activated by simple daily tasks such as brushing your teeth. This condition can get progressively worse.

Symptoms

-Occasional twinges of mild pain

-Episodes of severe, shooting or jabbing pain that may feel like an electric shock

-Spontaneous attacks of pain or attacks triggered by things such as touching the face, chewing, speaking and brushing teeth

-Bouts of pain lasting from a few seconds to several seconds

-Episodes of several attacks lasting days, weeks, months or longer — some people have periods when they experience no pain

-Pain in areas supplied by the trigeminal nerve, including the cheek, jaw, teeth, gums, lips, or less often the eye and forehead

-Pain affecting one side of your face at a time

-Pain focused in one spot or spread in a wider pattern

-Attacks becoming more frequent and intense over time

Treatments

If conservative therapies fail, treatment options may include microvascular decompression and Gamma Knife Radiosurgery.


Hydrocephalus

Overview

When a buildup of fluid (cerebrospinal fluid) begins to put pressure on the brain and does not allow for normal brain function and structure. This can cause several other problems as well. This condition occurs most often in infants and older adults.

Symptoms
-An unusually large head
-A rapid increase in the size of the head
-A bulging or tense soft spot (fontanel) on the top of the head
-Vomiting
-Sleepiness
-Irritability
-Poor feeding
-Seizures
-Eyes fixed downward (sunsetting of the eyes)
-Deficits in muscle tone and strength, responsiveness to touch, and expected growth
-Balance changes
-Urinary Incontinence

Treatments
Surgical treatment with shunting can regularly restore cerebrospinal fluid levels in the brain in order to reduce pressure and regulate brain function. The surgeons at Colorado Brain and Spine Institute may elect to use advanced technology of Neuro-navigation to place the shunt. There are various types of shunts that allow the surgeon and his team to program the shunt depending on your symptoms and radiology findings.


Chiari Malformation

Overview
Imagine you are trying to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste onto your toothbrush. Your brain being the toothpaste, your hands being the skull, and the opening of the tube being the beginning of your spinal canal. What this specific condition does is that your skull is abnormally small or misshapen, which causes it to squeeze the brain and force it downward into your spinal canal. There are three types of this disease:

Type I: Occurs as the skull and brain are growing so the individual may not experience symptoms until they are reaching adulthood. Can be cause by the size and shape of the skull.

Type II: The more common of the three types, occurs from birth and is genetically passed down (passed down from family members through reproduction). This type is usually seen when a child is observed in the womb through ultrasound. Most often caused by a type of Spina Bifida called myelomeningocele.

Type III: Occurs when the cerebellum (lower back part of the brain) gets pushed into the spinal canal. Usually the type with the highest death rate.

Symptoms

Type I:
-Headaches (most common)
-Neck pain
-Unsteady gait (problems with balance)
-Poor hand coordination (fine motor skills)
-Numbness and tingling of the hands and feet
-Dizziness
-Difficulty swallowing, sometimes accompanied by gagging, choking and vomiting
-Vision problems (blurred or double vision)
-Speech problems, such as hoarseness
-Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
-Weakness
-Slow heart rhythm
-Curvature of the spine (scoliosis) related to spinal cord impairment
-Abnormal breathing, such as central sleep apnea, characterized by periods of breathing
cessation during sleep

Type II:
-Changes in breathing pattern
-Swallowing problems, such as gagging
-Quick downward eye movements
-Weakness in arms

Type III:
-Neurological problems

Treatments
Normally patients can be treated through conservative techniques such as pain management through medications, while in more serious cases a surgical solution is more highly recommended.