The designation "brain tumors" is commonly applied to a wide variety of intracranial mass lesions that are distinct in their location, biology, treatment, and prognosis. Since many of these lesions do not arise from brain parenchyma, the more appropriate term would be "intracranial tumors." The term "tumor" is used to include both neoplastic and non-neoplastic mass lesions, and should be considered in its broadest sense to simply indicate a space-occupying mass. This review describes an imaging-based approach for evaluating intracranial tumors. Conventional MRI is discussed in the setting of a regional classification system. This system provides a framework for analysis, and imaging clues can then be applied to narrow the differential possibilities. Emphasis is placed on advanced MRI techniques and their utility for deciphering common diagnostic problems.
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