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May 21st, 2008
03:03 PM ET

Inside a Senator’s brain

Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains how doctors will pinpoint the location of Senator Kennedy's brain tumor.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains how doctors will pinpoint the location of Senator Kennedy's brain tumor.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

Somewhere deep inside the brain of Sen. Edward Kennedy, the neurons in his left parietal lobe were becoming angry. This is an area of the brain at about eye level just behind the ear. Something had invaded their space, a foreign mass of some type, and they were about to react in a way that would frighten the senator and those around him.

It was this past Saturday when the brain had a sudden burst of electrical activity and caused a seizure, also known as a convulsion. Certain parts of his body would first become rigid, and then start to shake. He would lose consciousness.

In most people, including the senator, there was really no way he could’ve known it was about to happen. Warning signs in the past may have been a vague headache, possibly some numbness in his right arm, maybe even the loss of a word when he was speaking. Any of those things may have been quickly forgotten or dismissed. A seizure, on the other hand, is a stern warning that the brain has reached a break point.

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Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Sen. Ted Kennedy
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Dr. Gupta,

    What is the prognosis for Senator Kennedy? Are the types of treatments they have talked about effective?

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    May 21, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  2. Larry

    Dr. Gupta,

    What is the potential for neural stem cell treatment for malignant brain tumors?

    May 21, 2008 at 6:51 pm |
  3. Jennifer - Michigan

    Dr. Gupta,
    Is it possible that Mr. Kennedy could be partially paralyzed or be unable to walk if he were to have another serious seizure? Does it depend on where the tumor is? Anyway, I’m thinking that his doctors would have him on anti-seizure medication. He is in my thoughts and prayers. Very scary diagnosis for sure. Thanks.

    May 21, 2008 at 4:14 pm |