Revision 7 for 'Brain mass lesion (summary)'

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Brain mass lesion (summary)

This is a basic article for medical students and other non-radiologists

Brain mass lesions are a broad collection of pathological processes that result in changes on brain imaging (usually CT or MRI). They are a very disparate group of conditions ranging from infection (abscess) to brain tumors (benign and slow-growing, metastatic or primary high-grade brain tumor). A number of features of a brain lesion can help to narrow the differential.

Reference article

This is a summary article; we do not have a more in-depth reference article.


  • pathophysiology
    • brain mass lesions are a very broad group of conditions
      • infection (abscess)
      • neoplastic
        • brain metastases
        • primary brain tumor (benign/slow growing to high-grade and rapidly progressive)


CT head | MRI brain

  • role of imaging
    • is there a mass lesion?
    • what's the likely cause?
    • are there complications (e.g. mass effect)?
    • will further imaging (or other tests) be helpful?
  • radiographic features
    • when making an assessment of a brain lesion, use these questions:
      • is the lesion solitary?
      • is the lesion definitely in the brain (intra-axial)?
      • is there edema around the lesion?
      • is there associated mass effect?
      • is there clinical history or previous imaging that helps in the diagnosis, e.g. history of cancer

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