What is Meningioma?
A meningioma is a type of tumor that develops in the meninges, which are the membranes that provide a covering for the brain and spinal cord. These tumors are typically benign, but on occasion are found to be malignant. If left untreated, a meningioma may begin to compress the brain, leading to complications involving concentration and memory problems, behavioral changes and seizures.
Meningiomas are most common in older women but can occur in those of either gender at any age. Patients with a meningioma may experience symptoms such as headaches, vision problems, seizures, hearing loss, memory difficulties, and nausea or vomiting. The cause of these tumors is unknown, but exposure to a considerable amount of radiation is a risk factor in their development.
The majority of meningiomas require treatment to remove the tumor and prevent complications and excessive growth of the mass. Treatment for meningiomas usually involves surgery, sometimes in combination with radiation therapy. Dr. Lipani will determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your condition after a thorough evaluation.
Diagnosing a Meningioma
If Dr. Lipani suspects that you have a meningioma, a series of tests may be recommended to confirm a diagnosis. After evaluating your medical history and performing a physical examination, a CT scan or MRI may be performed to produce internal images of the brain. In some cases, a dye may be administered to provide greater contrast between the structures within the skull.
Surgery is usually the most effective approach for the treatment of meningiomas that are aggressive or cause symptoms. A craniotomy is a surgical procedure that involves opening up the skull in order to remove the tumor. An incision is first made in the scalp, then a piece of bone known as a bone flap is removed to access the affected area. Dr. Lipani will remove as much of the meningioma as possible without affecting nearby healthy tissue. Depending on the location of the tumor, complete removal may be difficult and require post-surgery radiation to avoid recurrence. Once the tumor has been sufficiently removed, the skull opening will be closed by replacing and reattaching the bone flap and the scalp incision is sutured.
These procedures are performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting and require shaving the scalp in the area where the incision is made. In many cases, patients remain awake during surgery and will be asked to move their leg, repeat the alphabet or tell a story to ensure that brain functioning remains intact during the procedure.
Recovery from a Craniotomy
After a craniotomy procedure, patients will likely experience a headache for a few days and may feel tired or weak. Most patients will need to spend a few nights in the hospital, but specific recovery times may vary between individuals. Dr. Lipani will prescribe pain medication in order to relieve symptoms and promote efficient healing.
All patients will require follow-up appointments for imaging tests even if the entire meningioma has been removed. If the tumor was only partially removed, your surgeon will determine whether you will need monitoring with head scans or an additional treatment such as radiation therapy, which uses high energy X-rays or gamma rays to destroy the remaining meningioma tissue.
Risks of a Craniotomy
Surgery to treat a meningioma is a complex procedure that is not without certain risks and complications. As with any type of surgery, there is a risk of infection and bleeding. After surgery, the brain may swell or an accumulation of fluid may develop that can lead to brain damage and other serious complications. Surgery may also produce some damage in the normal tissue of the brain, which can cause problems with the patient’s ability to think, see or speak.
Dr. Lipani will discuss these risks with you prior to the craniotomy and take precautions to prevent any complications from occurring while performing this procedure.