One of the most common types of brain tumors, meningiomas grow on the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord (called meninges). These tumors are usually benign and relatively slow growing, though more aggressive forms also exist. As these tumors grow, they can put pressure on the brain and important surrounding structures, causing neurological problems. Our team of Duke experts work together daily to provide the most advanced treatments currently available to remove the meningioma and relieve any neurological symptoms you may be experiencing.
Your care team will create a customized treatment plan for you based on several important factors. These include any neurological symptoms you’re experiencing (for example, vision problems, hearing loss, strength or sensory changes, or even personality changes), the size and location of your tumor, your overall health, and your treatment preferences.
Because meningiomas are usually benign and grow slowly, watchful waiting with regular imaging is often a first step. Your doctors will request routine MRI scans (possibly every couple of months or years) so they can understand how the tumor may be changing or growing.
Our surgeons use minimally invasive techniques whenever possible to make recovery faster and easier. Depending on the tumor’s location, we may be able to access these tumors through small incisions in the scalp or even through your nose using an endoscope. In other cases, we can remove meningiomas through small, coin-sized holes in the skull. In rare cases, a traditional craniotomy (a larger opening in the skull) may be the best option. We work closely with you and your family to customize the approach for each person.
Sometimes used with or instead of surgery, radiation therapy can stunt tumor growth or even shrink the tumor while preserving healthy brain tissue. Stereotactic radiosurgery treats tumors by delivering high doses of radiation to precisely targeted areas while shielding surrounding tissue. We use several imaging tools, including MRI and CT scans, to pinpoint the location of the meningioma.
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A series of simple, in-office tests will help your doctor learn more about the function of your brain, nerves, eyes, facial expressions, muscular strength, and reflexes.
MRI and CT Imaging
These scans give doctors detailed visual images of your brain. You may be given a special dye -- through an injection into your vein or a pill that you swallow -- to increase the contrast of the image. These tests usually last 30-60 minutes and are virtually painless.
Why Choose Duke
Research shows that hospitals and surgeons who perform more surgeries tend to have better outcomes. Our brain tumor specialists treat approximately 3,700 patients each year, of which 800 are new patients. We treat all types of brain tumors and develop a personalized approach to each patient's care.
Your care team will consist of board-certified experts in neurosurgery, radiology, oncology, otolaryngology, endocrinology, ophthalmology, and plastic surgery. You’ll also have access to a host of specialists -- from nutritionists and social workers to audiologists and physical therapists -- who can help you navigate your diagnosis and improve your prognosis.
Operating Room Technology
Intra-operative MRI (iMRI) allows your neurosurgeon to get MRI images of your brain while you are still in surgery. This confirms that all or as much of the meningioma as possible is removed, to ensure surgical success. It also reduces the time and number of procedures you have to endure. Surgeons also use a sophisticated sensor navigation system -- sort of like GPS for your brain -- that helps them avoid vital nerves and other structures. This allows for more surgical accuracy than ever before.
The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center's robust research program is dedicated to finding better outcomes for brain tumors. We co-developed a vaccine that extends the lives of people with glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor, and played a pivotal role in the introduction of Avastin in the treatment of brain tumors. We continue to explore ways to selectively target tumors, tame fast-growing and drug-resistant tumors, and design new therapies to destroy cancer. Our researchers are also studying ways to manipulate the genes and proteins that fuel tumor growth.
In addition, Duke University Hospital is proud to be named the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 10 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.