Mass effect (medicine)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

In medicine, a mass effect is the effect of a growing mass that results in secondary pathological effects by pushing on or displacing surrounding tissue.

In oncology, the mass typically refers to a tumor.

For example, cancer of the thyroid gland may cause symptoms due to compressions of certain structures of the head and neck; pressure on the laryngeal nerves may cause voice changes, narrowing of the windpipe may cause stridor, pressure on the gullet may cause dysphagia and so on. Surgical removal or debulking is sometimes used to alleviate symptoms of the mass effect even if the underlying pathology is not curable.

In neurology, mass effect is a general term applied to the effects exerted by any mass, including, for example, an evolving intracerebral hemorrhage (a bleeding within the skull) presenting with a clinically significant hematoma.[1] The hematoma can exert a mass effect on the brain, increasing intracranial pressure and potentially causing midline shift or deadly brain herniation.


  1. ^ Zazulia, AR; Diringer MN, Derdeyn CP, Powers WJ (1999). "Progression of mass effect after intracerebral hemorrhage". Stroke 30 (6): 1167–73. PMID 10356094.