Common Brain Conditions

Brain Tumours:

The term brain tumour literally refers to a lump in the brain. There are many different types of tumour and in general terms it is the type or nature of a tumour which determines the long term outcome.



  • Primary Brain tumours – These are tumours that arise from the brain tissue itself-most commonly the supporting cells within the brain.
  • Glioma – the most common type of primary brain tumour- many subtypes (Astrocytoma, glioblastoma multiforme, Oligodendroglioma, Ependymoma, Medulloblastoma, Neurocytoma, Ganglioglioma.).
  • Meningioma – Tumour arising from the lining of the brain (meninges). Haemangiopericytoma is a faster growing variant.
  • Metastasis – This refers to a tumour that has spread from elsewhere in the body such as breast lung, bowel.
    Cysts- May be associated with any of the above tumours or occurring on their own eg. Colloid cysts and Arachnoid cysts. A cyst refers to a fluid filled cavity.
  • Pituitary Tumours – Arise from cells in the pituitary gland that hangs underneath the brain. May produce hormones or cause problems by pressure on nearby structures ( usually the nerves to the eyes).
  • Vascular tumours – Tumours involving abnormal clusters of blood vessels, they include cavernous haemangiomas and haemangioblastomas.


Vascular lesions:

  • Aneurysms – These are ballooned areas on the major blood vessels of the brain. Tend to occur at branching points. May bleed and cause disability or death.
  • Arteriovenous Malformations – These are abnormal communications in the brain between veins and arteries. May involve simple or complex clusters of abnormal vessels. May tend to bleed and can cause other problems.

Spinal Fluid Disorders:

  • Hydrocephalus – This is a condition where there is an excess of fluid in and around the brain. May be a result of a variety of causes, from blockage of pathways through to tumours and bleeding.
  • Arnold – Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia- ACM is a condition where aprt of the cerebellum which sits at the back/under the brain is stuck in the opening to the spinal canal causing compression and a build-up of fluid in the spinal cord (syringomyelia).