Intracranial mass effect (summary)

Dr Dan J Bell and Dr Jeremy Jones et al.

Intracranial mass effect describes what happens around a tumour in the brain. It is important to make the distinction between an abnormality that causes mass effect and compresses adjacent structures, and one that does not. Most tumours will cause mass effect on surrounding structures and in turn cause midline shift or hydrocephalus.

Reference article

This is a summary article; there is no parent article on this topic.


  • pathophysiology
    • mass effect may be caused by:
      • tumours
      • cerebral abscess
      • infarction and associated oedema
      • haemorrhage
  • investigation
    • standard brain imaging with CT
  • role of imaging
    • determine if there is mass effect from a lesion
    • determine the likely inderlying diagnosis
    • determine if there are any complications of mass effect, e.g hydrocephalus
  • radiographic features
    • structures are pushed away from the mass lesion
    • compression of fluid-filled structures may result in obstruction
      • the 4th ventricle could be compressed by a tumour
      • obstruction of CSF flow results in increased pressure proximally
      • lateral and 3rd ventricular dilatation seen as hydrocephalus
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rID: 55171
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