For starters, the doctor will evaluate medical history and symptoms. Then, a physical exam will follow. If the doctor has reasons to suspect that there may be something wrong, he can recommend certain tests. The most common such tests include the following procedures.
1. Blood tests
These are usually simple analysis which can determine if there is a type of infection in the patient’s body. Blood tests can discover if the patient is suffering from any other condition which may cause those symptoms.
2. Neurological examination
During such an examination patients will be asked about their symptoms first. Then, a physical examination will follow. Doctors will check for changes in the eye movements, leg and hand coordination, as well as change in balance, speech and reflexes. Even though your specialist may be sure that you suffer from MS, a diagnosis needs more tests to be confirmed.
3. Magnetic resonance imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging is a test that can confirm the MS diagnosis. This procedure requires the use of an MRI scanner, which creates detailed images of the brain and the spinal cord. The results that this examination can offer are considered to be extremely accurate. The whole test takes between 10 and 60 minutes.
4. Lumbar puncture
Also called spinal tap, this test requires local anesthetic to insert a needle in the space around the spinal cord. A sample of fluid is taken and tested for the presence of abnormalities. However, after this procedure patients can experience certain levels of disturbance, including headaches.
5. Evoked potentials
This is a test that involves examining the time the brain needs to receive messages. It places small electrodes on the head for monitoring waves. In case certain damage is caused to the nerve sheaths, the responses will be slower. The procedure is described as both simple and painless.
Besides the aforementioned procedures, there are other tests that can be recommended for the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. Inner ear tests and tests to check balance may also be used to confirm a diagnosis.
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