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Brain Swelling from radiation treatments

  My mother underwent brain surgury about 4 years ago to remove non-cancerous tumors. She recovered well however recently she began to have problems such as disorientation and not being aware of dates and times, and even loss of bodily funtions at times. This happened last year and she came back to see her surgeon and was perscribed steroids for lack of noticing anything else wrong except some swelling in the frontal lobe area. This brought her back to 100% in about 3 days. She resides in Hungary and now it has happened again only worse. She was immediatly given the steroids again by her own doctors advice and was told she could not travel back to the states because the air pressure changes could trigger a seizure. She will NOT let any doctors in Europe treat her and insists only her doctor in the states can treat her. Since on the steroids again she has now recovered from her symtoms again and nothing seems wrong although I know it is only managing the symtoms. My question is, since the steroids have obviously, albeit temporarily reduced this swelling, could she now travel with an acceptable level of risk? My feelings are the doctors in hungary and her's here are understandibly concerned at liability. But that is not my problem. I'm not thinking about that and I know this will kill her if nothing is done, and she refuses to be treated there. Is this airplane flight really so dangerous? I was not aware of pressure changes in the skull anyway, I always though it affected the ear canal and such. I dont expect you will stick your neck out anymore than the others but I have no choice but to try and ask anyway for my mother's sake. How sad it is that a doctor cant say "it can be dangerous, but she will probably be OK" and not be afraid of ending up in a courtroom. You can stay anonymous, I dont care, I just need some honesty!
  Thank you,
Dear Peter,
Your mother's present problems may be from either the tumor recurring or from
the radiation treatments.  You didn't mention the kind of tumor that was resected
four years ago, but a good guess is that it was a meningioma.  Regardless,
your mother should have an MRI with contrast to evaluate the region where the
tumor was removed.  Both recurrent tumor and radiation necrosis can cause swelling
in the brain.  Steroids will control the swelling, though some patients will
require another surgery to resect the recurrent tumor or the radiation necrosis.
Again, this is speaking in generalities as the type of tumor and the appearance
on recent MRI are necessary information to render an appropriate opinon.
It probably isn't a good idea for your mother to travel when she has symptomatic
swelling in the brain.  Her physician may consider allowing her to travel once
this is under control, but there is no guarantee that there will be no problems
with the flight.  The reality is there will probably not be any problems with
a flight, given the swelling is under control and you certainly won't get any
guarantees that your mother will have a safe flight.  
You and your mother need to make a decision whether a flight to the U.S. is
a necessary and worthwhile eveavour.  Your mother's physician can help you
in making this decision, but ultimately the decision is yours to make with
your mother.
Good luck.

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