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What Is a Posterior Fossa Tumor?

Valerie Goldberg
Valerie Goldberg

A posterior fossa tumor is a kind of brain tumor located near the cerebellum. The cerebellum is vital to the human body because it helps control coordination and movement. A tumor in this area can cause pressure and pain to both the spine and the brain. A posterior fossa tumor, because of its location, typically is removed even if it is not cancerous.

A person might realize that he or she could have a brain tumor if he or she starts to experience intense symptoms such as nausea, chronic headaches and the loss of coordination. There are some patients who might also experience facial muscle issues, dilated pupils and trouble hearing. Any individual who experiences such symptoms should set up an appointment with a medical professional.


Doctors usually can diagnose a posterior fossa tumor by use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can take a sort of picture of the brain. A biopsy can be done to see whether the tumor is cancerous or benign. Benign posterior fossa tumors likely will be surgically taken out of the body anyway, because any added pressure on the the brain is bad for the body.

Tumors of the brain usually are removed through a craniotomy. A patient will be prepped for this surgery by having a portion or all of his or her head shaved. A hole is made in the patient's skull so that a team of doctors can remove the tumor. Brain surgery is a very serious operation, so a patient might need to stay in the hospital for a week to recover. There are risks associated with every surgery, and some risks of a craniotomy include breathing issues, seizures and infection at the operation site.

If the tumor was cancerous, some patients might need to undergo radiation therapy after they recover from surgery to be sure that the cancer has not progressed to other parts of the body. A patient who has had brain surgery will need to keep several bandages on his or her head after the operation and cannot get these bandages wet. Depending on the size and severity of the tumor, some people might require some physical therapy after they are strong enough to get back to everyday living.

Surgery for a posterior fossa tumor or any brain tumor can be a scary concept for patients and their families. The earlier a tumor is caught, the better chance the person has of getting it successfully removed. Many craniotomy patients go on to live happy and healthy lives after the surgery.

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