The nervous system is one of the most important organ systems in the human body, since it controls the activities and outcomes of all the other organs and systems. The primary organs of the nervous system are the brain and the spinal cord, which make up the central nervous system. The brain and spinal cord communicate with the rest of the organs and systems by sending both electrical and chemical impulses via a dense network of neurons and nerves, which make up the peripheral nervous system. In order to protect the two most important components of the nervous system that is the brain and the spinal cord, there exists layers of mucous membranes around both the organs, which act as a protective sheath, called the meninges.
Meningioma is a rare disease of the meninges membrane surrounding the brain and the spinal cord, where a tumor may occur in the membrane. Fortunately, the tumor is almost always non-cancerous and poses no immediate threat to the health of the patient, because it is very slow growing. In many cases, meningioma does not even show any symptoms and may not even require treatment. When symptoms do appear, they may range from seizures and walking problems to problems in control of bladder movement, speech and vision problems, and in some severe cases, even dementia.
The direct causes of meningioma are still not very clear, although a link has been established between hereditary conditions and regular exposure to ionizing radiation.
Although in mild, slow-growing cases, treatment for meningioma may not even be required, in later stages, when required, treatment may involve radiation methods or surgical procedures.
In India, the reported number of cases of meningioma are quite low, with less than 10 lakh cases per year, but still the need of proper meningioma treatment in India arises, and the different methods of treating this condition may be either surgical or via medical procedures, as discussed below.
1) Craniotomy – Craniotomy is the first of the surgical methods used in the treatment of meningioma. In this method, a part of the skull is removed like a flap or a hole is drilled, to access the brain from outside and then surgery is performed. This method is called open-brain surgery and has a few risks, since the brain is exposed, but it has a higher rate of successful elimination of the disease if performed correctly.
2) Microsurgery – Microsurgery is another form of surgical procedure used to treat this disease. This is a minimal invasive surgery, where a microscope and specialized tools are used to perform the surgery in a very small blood vessel rather than the exposed brain itself. There is lesser risk involved in this method
3) Radiation therapy – This is the non-surgical, medical procedure of treating later stages of meningioma, where concentrated beams of radiation are focussed on the tumor itself to slowly degrade it, without harming the nearby cells or without the need of any invasive surgery.
All the above methods have proven to be successful in treating meningioma and are practised throughout India.