Brain Lesions (Lesions on the Brain) (cont.)
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Brain Lesions Complications
Although the complications of any brain lesion are numerous and often dire, they are generally related to either the progression of the brain lesion itself or to complications from treatment. Left untreated, many brain lesion types may eventually lead to the development of complications such as, for example respiratory depression, loss of muscle function, or widespread brain cell death leading to seizures and coma. Other serious complications include severe disability (for example, loss of memory or speech, loss of limb function, confusion, or combative personality changes). Dangerous behavior patterns (for example, medication errors, getting lost while driving or taking a walk, leaving stove burners on, as well as others) may occur in some patients, especially those that develop slowly progressive diseases like Alzheimer's disease.
Complications from attempts to treat various brain lesions can also be severe. A brain surgeon often has to go through normal brain tissue to reach the brain lesion, both for diagnosis and treatment. Complications may include injuring otherwise normal brain tissue, thus making the patient's symptoms worse. There is a similar risk involved with radiation therapy, as the destructive beam may damage or affect surrounding normal tissue. Chemotherapy, while designed to target specific cancer cells, may also affect some of the bodies other normal cells resulting in cell damage or cell death. Nausea, vomiting, dehydration, weakness and susceptibility to infection may also result.
Similar complications may occur when diseases characterized by a slow, progressive brain lesion are treated with multiple drugs. Patients with strokes treated with the medication tPA may develop severe, life-threatening bleeding, which may actually worsen the symptoms from the original stroke, or even cause death. Because there are inherent severe risks in treating certain brain lesions, it is imperative that patients or their surrogates are well informed about the patient's prognosis, as well as the risks and benefits of the various treatment options. Often times, difficult decisions must be made between the treatment team and the patient or their representatives.
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