Tests and Diagnosis

Determining if you have MS requires more than a single test. Rather, your doctor might suspect MS based on your symptoms. A neurologist would probably start testing by checking for weakness, loss of sensation, balance problems and vision problems. Additional tests that can help doctors identify MS include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test creates images of the brain and spinal cord to help doctors look for scar tissue or inflammation, called MS lesions. Before or during the test, dye may be injected into your veins to help make the images clearer.
  • Spinal tap: Fluid is taken from your spine in your lower back through a needle and then analyzed for the presence of MS antibodies and white blood cells.
  • Electrophysiological test: Electrodes are inserted into your muscles to measure the speed of your nerve impulses.
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