UMEM Educational Pearls

Some medical issues arise in patients with brain tumors:

// Steroids are used to decrease vasogenic edema, especially preop or during radiation therapy. Patients are ideally gradually weaned off steroids. Dexamethasone is most commonly used. 1-2% of patients are at risk for adrenal suppression.

// Infections: Post-op wound infections can be delayed up to months, especially in patients on steroids.

// Antiepileptics: Although technically not recommended in patients with brain tumors who have not had seizures (American Academy of Neurology 2010), many surgeons continue to prescribe antiepileptics preoperatively and then discontinue them by 1 month postop if the patients remain seizure-free. Levetiracetam is emerging as the drug of choice due to favorable side effect profile.

// Thromboembolism: Brain tumors are considered very high risk for venous thromboembolism. Low-molecular-weight heparin is the treatment of choice, with warfarin being an acceptable substitute.

// Arterial thrombosis and ischemic stroke: Risk is increased with certain medications, and thrombolysis is contraindicated.


Pruitt AA. Medical Management of Patients with Brain Tumors. Continuum 2015;21(2):314 331