Low-Grade Astrocytoma (LGA)

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About Low-Grade Astocytomas

General Information


  • Symptoms may include seizure, focal neurologic deficit (weakness or speech problems), headaches, personality changes or visual loss.


  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is preferred for initial, standard diagnostic imaging.
  • For a tumor near critical brain regions (for example, speech or movement control), more advanced imaging techniques may be required. UCLA has pioneered the use of FDOPA PET for the evaluation of low grade astrocytoma.
  • An actual tissue biopsy is typically required for definitive diagnosis in nearly all cases. If the tumor is inaccessible to open surgery, precisely guided (stereotactic) needle biopsies can be performed.
  • UCLA neurosurgeons are able to bring together in the operating room all of the diagnostic and planning imaging information using image fusion (exactly overlapping the images in 3D space). This information can then be used during the course of the operation to help achieve a safer, more effective surgery.


  • Your UCLA neurosurgeon will determine with you how much of the tumor can or should be removed.
    • If the tumor is surgically accessible, a "complete" removal is attempted. A near-complete resection (less than 10 cc of residual tumor) of low-grade astrocytomas prevents tumor recurrence for longer periods of time.
    • For large tumors, those deep in the brain, and/or tumors near speech and motor areas, obtaining a near-complete resection can be challenging.
  • The UCLA Brain Tumor Program has neurosurgeons with extensive experience in protecting critical brain functions while removing difficult low-grade astrocytomas.
  • For surgical planning, mapping of critical speech and motor brain regions which may be adjacent to the tumor may be necessary using functional MRI (fMRI), white matter tracking by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and MRI Spectroscopy (MRS).
  • Often, low-grade astrocytomas are best removed with the aid of intra-operative MRI, allowing the most complete, safest surgery possible.

The Neuro-ICU cares for patients with all types of neurosurgical and neurological injuries, including stroke, brain hemorrhage, trauma and tumors. We work in close cooperation with your surgeon or medical doctor with whom you have had initial contact. Together with the surgeon or medical doctor, the Neuro-ICU attending physician and team members direct your family member's care while in the ICU. The Neuro-ICU team consists of the bedside nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians in specialty training (Fellows) and attending physicians. UCLA Neuro ICU Family Guide