Brain lesions are a type of brain injury that can occur in any area of the brain. Lesions may occur as a result of disease, trauma, or a congenital abnormality. Occasionally, lesions develop in a particular region of the brain. A brain lesion may affect tiny or vast parts of the brain, and the underlying disorder may be mild or life-threatening. Brain lesions may initially present with no symptoms. The symptoms become more evident as lesions progress.
A brain lesion may be detected during a brain imaging procedure such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). Brain lesions appear on CT or MRI scans as dark or light patches that do not appear to be normal brain tissue. Typically, a brain lesion is discovered as a result of the imaging test and is unrelated to the ailment or symptom that prompted the imaging test in the first place.
A brain lesion may affect tiny or vast parts of the brain, and the underlying disorder may be mild or life-threatening.
Causes of Brain Lesions
Studies believe that many brain lesions are caused by a combination of risk factors, which some belief to be the main cause, however, a direct relationship between the risk factor(s) and the lesion is frequently difficult or unlikely to be proved by researchers. The following is a list of causes of brain lesions:
Can be either penetrating or blunt. Blunt trauma can be further classified as having or not having a skull fracture. Trauma damages or destroys brain tissue, resulting in immediate and/or delayed (hours to days, on average) symptoms.
Brain lesions caused by a wide variety of pathogenic agents such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites are classified as infectious. Certain individuals may develop symptoms rapidly over hours to days (as is the case with viral and bacterial meningitis) or over a period of years (such as in the parasitic infection Cysticercosis).
3. Malignant Tumors
Subtypes of malignant brain lesions are classified as “primary” if they begin in brain tissue cells (gliomas and medulloblastomas), and “secondary” if they develop in other body organs and spread to the brain (metastasis) (such as lung, breast, and colon cancers). Lesions to the secondary brain are more common than lesions to the primary brain.
Certain lesions progress rapidly (weeks to months), whereas others progress more slowly. Additionally, malignant lesions are frequently graded, denoting their appearance under a microscope with a letter (I, II, III, or IV). Grade I cancers are less aggressive and grow and spread more slowly, whereas grade IV tumors are extremely aggressive and grow and spread quickly.
4. Benign Tumors
Brain lesions are composed of abnormally growing cells that are non-cancerous (though a rare few may contain some cancer cells, mainly grade I). They may cause symptoms if they become large and compress other normal brain tissue or interfere with the blood supply to the brain. They usually develop slowly (for example, meningiomas).
5. Autoimmune Diseases
Lupus and multiple sclerosis are two examples of diseases caused by the body attacking itself. These are the results of the body’s antibodies attacking its own tissues, such as the brain’s tissues.
Like clogged arteries, plaques are aberrant protein accumulations in the brain or blood vessels, which slows down the flow of blood to the brain. This disease, which affects memory, thinking, and behavior, is brought on by plaque buildup in the brain tissues of those who suffer from it. Damaged tissue from multiple sclerosis can also generate brain plaques.
7. Radiation Exposure
Radiation or chemical exposure increases the risk of brain cancers and lesions.
Toxins in the body, such as by drinking too much alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Other harmful compounds are ammonia and urea buildup in the body as a result of kidney problems (can affect brain function but may not show discrete brain lesions).
Symptoms of Brain Lesions
The signs and symptoms of the majority of brain lesions are specific to the lesion type. However, some symptoms that are frequently observed in patients with various types of brain lesions include:
- headaches (recurrent or constant)
- decreased appetite
- changes in mood
- personality changes
- behavioral changes
- cognitive decline
- inability to concentrate
- vision and balance problems
- muscle stiffness
- numbness or paralysis
- altered or lost sense of smell
- memory loss
When To See The Doctor
If a brain lesion seen during a brain imaging test does not appear to be the result of a benign or resolved disorder, your doctor will likely seek additional information through additional testing or consultation with a specialist.
Your doctor may refer you to a neurologist for a more in-depth assessment and, maybe, additional tests. Even if a neurological workup is negative for a diagnosis, your doctor may urge more testing to confirm the diagnosis of periodic imaging scans to monitor the lesion.
Diagnosis of Brain Lesions
If symptoms imply that a person may be suffering from a brain lesion(s), it is critical to schedule an appointment with a physician. A doctor will assist in diagnosing and treating each patient, depending on the severity of the condition. The doctor will take a medical history and then perform a physical examination.
To determine the site of the lesion, the doctor may use hot, cold, or vibrating devices to touch the patient’s skin, as well as pressure the patient to check for pain sensation. Additionally, the doctor may order other tests to thoroughly assess the condition.
Several blood tests are typically ordered, and many patients may undergo a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain. The definitive diagnosis of certain types of brain lesions is made through the evaluation of biopsy tissue obtained from the lesion.
Treatment of Brain Lesions
A patient’s age, overall health concerns, and whether or not to proceed with a treatment plan agreed upon by both the patient and their medical care team all factor into how they treat brain lesions.
Antibiotics, brain surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments may be used depending on the type of brain lesion. Treatment options for other lesions are limited to the use of drugs that may alleviate symptoms while also halting the spread of the disease.
Complications of brain lesions may arise from the disease process itself or from the treatment modalities, and can range from minor complications (nausea and vomiting) to severe (symptoms become worse, seizures, coma, or even death).