Optic Nerve Glioma

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About Optic Nerve Glioma

General Information

  • Optic nerve glioma is a type of juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma (Grade 1 astrocytoma), which occurs more commonly in children and young adults. They also have a more favorable prognosis compared with all other astrocytoma types.
  • The most common site of juvenile pilocytic astrocytomas is the cerebellum.


  • The most common symptoms are headache, nausea, vomiting, poor balance, and visual complaints, depending on the tumor site. Many symptoms may be due to hydrocephalus.


  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the preferred imaging technique for diagnosis.
  • For surgical planning, mapping of critical speech and motor brain regions that may be adjacent to the tumor may be necessary. Such mapping is performed at the world-renowned UCLA Brain Mapping Center.
  • 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.


  • 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. This can be curative.
    • In cases in which the tumor cannot be removed, a conservative, non-operative approach is recommended.
  • Often, juvenile pilocytic astrocytomas are best removed with the aid of intra-operative MRI, allowing the most complete, safest surgery possible.
Optic Nerve Gliom


This MRI image shows a juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma in the ventricle of the left frontal lobe (arrow). This patient had a partial removal of the tumor because the tumor involved the optic nerves.