Multiple Sclerosis (MS) - Exams and Tests
multiple sclerosis (MS) is not always easy. It may
take some time from when symptoms first appear to confirm the diagnosis. MS is
diagnosed when it is clear from neurological tests and a neurological
exam that lesions are present in more than one area of the
central nervous system (usually the brain, spinal
cord, or the nerves to the eyes) and that damage has occurred at more than one
point in time.
A diagnosis of MS is confirmed when you have a
- Two separate episodes of neurological
symptoms-such as weakness or clumsiness, vision problems, tingling or numbness,
or balance problems-that a
neurologist can verify. Each episode must have lasted
at least 24 hours and occurred at different times at least 1 month
- Symptoms that indicate injury to more than one part of the
central nervous system, and MRI and laboratory tests that show abnormal
findings consistent with a diagnosis of MS.
- No other disease or
condition that is clearly causing the symptoms and test results.
Your medical history and
neurological exam can identify possible nervous
system problems and are often enough to strongly suggest a diagnosis of MS.
Tests may help confirm or rule out the diagnosis when your history and
exam do not provide clear evidence of the disease.
Some people have had only one episode of a neurological symptom such as optic
neuritis, but MRI tests suggest they may have MS. This is known as a clinically
isolated syndrome. Many of these people go on to develop MS over time. MS is
diagnosed when MRI tests done a few months apart show more than one area of
neurological damage and when other tests are consistent with MS.
Tests used to diagnose MS
Tests used to diagnose accompanying conditions
Urinary tract tests may be needed to help diagnose a
problem with bladder control in a person who has MS.
Neuropsychological tests may be needed to identify
thinking or emotional problems, which may be present without the person being
aware of them. Typically, these tests are in a question-and-answer