The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will also be done. It often is difficult to diagnose
(MS) because the symptoms are similar to those of other conditions. There is no definitive test for MS. However, the findings of some tests can contribute to a diagnosis.
Tests may include: MRI scan—This test uses magnetic waves to check for damage to the myelin sheath of the nerves in the brain and spinal cord. It can also be used to look for any decrease in gray matter. A contrast substance (gadolinium) may be used to help doctors identify areas of active inflammation. MRI scans can track changes in the disease.
Evoked responses—This test records the speed of the electrical responses in sensory, visual, or auditory nerves after a repeated sensory stimulus. This test can help identify abnormal areas affected by MS.
Visual evoked potential tests
are most often used in evaluating MS.
Lumbar puncture—In this procedure, a small amount of fluid from around the spinal cord is removed and checked for white blood cells, antibodies, and proteins. Doctors look for abnormal changes associated with MS.
Optical coherence tomography (OCT)- A test to evaluate the effect of MS on the optic nerves as well as side effects of some MS treatments.
Other tests may be done to rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms.
Multiple sclerosis (MS). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:
http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116285/Multiple-sclerosis-MS. Updated March 4, 2016. Accessed September 13, 2016.
NINDS multiple sclerosis information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
website. Available at:
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/multiple_sclerosis/multiple_sclerosis.htm. Updated November 19, 2015. Accessed September 13, 2016.
What is MS?
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
website. Available at:
http://www.nationalmssociety.org/What-is-MS. Accessed September 13, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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