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Overview of Brain Lesions: Meaning, symptoms, causes & Treatment

Team AckoJan 17, 2024

The brain is an essential organ of the body, regulating involuntary autonomic functions such as breathing, blood pressure, and temperature, as well as sensation, movement, and cognitive functions. Brain Lesions (BL) are abnormal mutations of the brain tissue that may occur due to several causes, such as injury, infection, inflammation, or illness. Depending on their location and size, these lesions can impact different parts of the brain and cause a variety of symptoms. In this article, we will explore what BL are, their causes, symptoms, and treatment options. 




What is a Brain Lesion?

A Brain Lesion can be defined as an injury or damage to any region of the brain. It could be caused by trauma or another medical condition that causes inflammation, dysfunction, or damage to brain cells or brain tissue. A lesion might be localised to one area of the brain, or it can spread to the corresponding areas too. At first, the damage may be so insignificant that there are no early symptoms, but as it increases over time, it causes visible physical and mental abnormalities. A brain lesion may directly impact the neuron or one of the glial cells. Either way, the neural functions get affected.

What causes Brain Lesions?

The following conditions may cause Brain Lesions.

1. Multiple sclerosis (MS)

MS is a disease that impacts your central nervous system, along with the brain and spinal cord. It develops when a person's defence mechanism attacks the outer layer of a nerve cell, disrupting the nerve impulse. MS lesions manifest themselves in the brain and spinal cord.

2. Trauma

Bleeding or swelling within can directly injure brain cells, or pressure within the skull might constrain the brain and impair its function. Trauma can also cause microscopic brain damage. Shear injuries are defined as damage to the neural pathways that connect brain cells, reducing their ability to communicate with one another. Head injuries can cause progressive loss of brain cells, which may negatively impact personality and thinking.

3. Stroke

This can occur as a result of a clot in the bloodstream, the accumulation of plaque, or when a blood vessel ruptures in the brain and haemorrhages.

Strokes may result in changes in the brain that first appear as swelling and eventually as dead tissue. A stroke is considered an acute medical condition that prohibits oxygen and other nutrients from reaching brain cells. When this happens, those cells begin to die within minutes.

4. Brain infection or inflammation

Brain infections and inflammation can both harm brain tissue. Brain infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Brain tissue inflammation can impair the function of the brain. The inflammation triggered by the infections may cause meningitis and encephalitis. Other infections can trigger specific abnormalities in brain tissue. 

For example, the most common cause of epilepsy is neurocysticercosis. A parasitic infection causes small calcifications that get spread throughout the brain. Infections can also cause abscesses in the brain, which is another form of Brain Lesion.

5. Tumours

Tumours that develop from brain cells or spread from other organs can have two effects on brain function. The tumour can either damage brain cells, causing their function to be lost, or it can take up space and produce pressure and swelling, affecting brain cell function. This can happen with both benign and malignant tumours. Meningiomas, adenomas, and gliomas are examples of common brain tumours.

6. Inflammatory and autoimmune diseases

Sarcoidosis, amyloidosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis are examples of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders that can impair brain function. Some of the brain damage may be caused by inflammation of the arteries in the brain, leading to strokes.

7. Pituitary adenomas

Pituitary adenomas are benign lesions that develop in the sella turcica, which supports the pituitary gland near the optic nerves that connect the eyes to the occiput in the back of the brain. As the tumour develops, it squeezes on the optic nerve, leading to visual abnormalities and sometimes vision loss.

How do Brain Lesions affect the brain?

Depending on their degree and position, BL might impair physical capabilities such as movement or coordination. They can also alter one's personality and even cause convulsions. BL can also cause learning issues because of the inability to process the information. Following are some of the areas that could be affected.

  • Memory

  • Cognitive skills

  • Vision

  • Emotions

  • Attention

  • The ability to plan

  • Formation of languages

Symptoms of Brain Lesion

The symptoms of a Brain Lesion may vary depending on which area of the brain is impacted. Some disorders can involve large areas of the brain while exhibiting few symptoms. Alternatively, extremely small lesions can be deadly if they develop in a vital part of the brain. However, some common symptoms of Brain Lesions may include the following.

  • Headaches

  • Drowsiness

  • Muscle paralysis or weakness in a specific area of the body

  • Losing coordination 

  • Movement or postural abnormalities

  • Troubled vision

  • Difficulty communicating or understanding language

  • Tingling, numbness, or sudden pain

  • Problems with memory

  • Disorientation, delusion, or dementia

  • Epileptic seizures

Types of Brain Lesions

Different types of Brain Lesions may include the following.

  • Abscesses: Abscesses formed due to an inflammatory tissue or pus. Although they are uncommon, abscesses can be fatal.

  • Cerebral infarction: A cerebral infarction is a form of brain injury in which a bunch of brain cells dies owing to a lack of oxygen.

  • Multiple sclerosis: In this condition, the immune system harms and destroys the nerves that line the spinal cord and brain. It makes communication difficult between the brain and the body.

  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs): Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) are Brain Lesions that occur in the initial stages of growth. The brain's arteries and veins get entangled and connected via tube-like structures called fistulae. 

In such circumstances, the arteries become weaker than normal arteries. As a result, these vulnerable blood vessels are more likely to rupture due to the increased flow of blood and bleeding into the brain.

  • Tumour:  Tumours are the cells that grow abnormally from normal cells. Some brain tumours are benign (non-cancerous), whereas others are malignant. They may begin in your brain or spread from other regions of your body (metastatic). They may grow rapidly or remain constant.

How is a Brain Lesion diagnosed?

The diagnosis of a Brain Lesion begins with the health care practitioner performing a physical exam that includes testing the muscular strength in your limbs, checking your reflexes, and determining if your senses operate properly.

After a neurological evaluation, imaging scans are used to diagnose a Brain Lesion. Some of the most prevalent imaging tools that can detect these types of lesions are the CT (computed tomography) scan, the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, and the PET (positron emission tomography) scan.

Depending on the clinical condition, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) may be performed to check the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for infection, haemorrhage, or abnormal proteins.

How are Brain Lesions treated?

Based on the history, symptoms, location, and degree of severity of your BL, your doctor will prescribe a treatment course for you. The treatment may include removing the lesions from the brain entirely or, in extreme situations, relieving symptoms to improve quality of life. 

The following are common treatment options.

1. Medications

Antibiotics or antimicrobials may be prescribed by the doctor to help fight against illness.

2. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy

Chemotherapy includes medications and chemicals, whereas radiation therapy includes high-energy beams. These treatments fight against malignant BL. If there is a cancerous lesion, chemotherapy may help, while radiation therapy may decrease tumours or other noncancerous brain tumours.

3. Surgery

The doctor may suggest the surgical removal of the lesions in severe cases. Even lesions deep within the brain that are difficult to access can be treated using modern surgical techniques.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here’s a list of common questions and answers related to Brain Lesions.


What are the prevalent symptoms of a Brain Lesion?

The symptoms of a Brain Lesion may differ depending on the area of the brain that is impacted. However, some potential symptoms of a Brain Lesion may include headaches, drowsiness, muscle paralysis or weakness in a specific area of the body, losing coordination, movement, or postural abnormalities, troubled vision, difficulty communicating or understanding language, tingling, numbness, or sudden pain, problems with memory, disorientation, delusion, or dementia, and epileptic seizures.

What is the definition of a Brain Lesion?

A Brain Lesion can be defined as an injury or damage to any region of the brain. It could be caused by trauma or another medical condition that causes inflammation, dysfunction, or damage to brain cells or brain tissue. A lesion might be localised to one area of the brain, or it can spread to the corresponding areas too.

How is Brain Lesion treated?

Depending on the type of BL, antibiotics, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, brain surgery, or a combination of these treatments may be used to treat BL. 


Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.


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