In recent years, doctors have been able to diagnose multiple sclerosis earlier in patients. It could take years for warning signs and symptoms of the disease to lead to a definitive diagnosis. However, newer techniques have been refined with tests to help rule out any other neurological or muscular condition and come to a conclusive diagnosis.
Currently, there are three benchmark tests in addition to a thorough examination and review of symptom history. They are listed below in this patient education guide:
|Test||Why Test?||What Happens?||What is a Normal/Abnormal Result?|
|Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)||Visualizes and describes brain defects (plaques)||A patient lies on a table that slides into a large tunnel-shaped machine. Gadolinium (dye) is injected into the vein to help make the images more clear.||Abnormal results show plaque or scar tissue along the nerve fibers.|
|Spinal Tap||Fluid surrounding the spinal cord and brain is analyzed for antibodies, abnormal chemicals or cells||A patient lies on a table in a curled position and the physician locates the space between the vertebras; a needle with syringe is inserted and fluid is sucked out.||Abnormal results would reveal antibodies, or white blood cells|
|Electro-Physiological Test||Assesses nerve impulse transmissions||A patient lies on a table and electrodes are inserted into the muscles to be tested. Stimulation is applied through the skin over the nerve and the contraction of the muscle records the electric activity.||Abnormal results would be a slowing of the transmission greater than the expected speed.|
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